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20 Best Things To Do in Paris

Paris is the city of light, art, love, the Eiffel Tower, crepes and croissants. If you visit it, let yourself go and get lost in its streets, but do not forget the must-sees that the city has reserved for you.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

16 min read

20 Best Things To Do in Paris

Alexandre III Bridge in Paris | ©Leonard Cotte

After several trips to the French capital it is common to have the feeling of not having finished seeing all the must-see places; the good thing about Paris is that the city is always waiting for you. Here are 20 things about Paris that you will always remember.

1. Visit the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadero and the Champs de Mars

View of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero| ©Dimitry Anikin
View of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero| ©Dimitry Anikin

Undoubtedly, the emblem of Paris is the tower that many Parisians once rejected as an aesthetic aberration for the city. Today no one can imagine a first visit to Paris without climbing the Eiffel Tower. If you are lucky, you will first spot it from the plane, then you will look for the lights of the Eiffel Tower at night on the horizon walking through the night Paris and, finally, you will surely go to take the photo of rigor from the Trocadero square.

Getting to the Eiffel Tower is easy, but what do you need to know if you want to go up? First of all, as with most tourist attractions in Paris, tickets to the Eiffel Tower: it is best to book them in advance to avoid the queue at the ticket office. When buying the tickets the first thing you have to decide is whether you want to go up only to the second floor or to the top and whether you want to do it by elevator or by stairs. The price of tickets for the Eiffel Tower varies depending on what you decide.

In either case you will have the option of taking a guided tour of the Eiffel Tower or buying the combined ticket with a pack of the Eiffel Tower and a cruise on the Seine to save money.

You will love the views from the Eiffel Tower, both during the day and with the city illuminated (to do it both ways without having to go up twice, the best time to go up is at sunset), but don't forget to visit the surroundings and even eat at one of the restaurants near the Eiffel Tower after your visit. On one side of the Eiffel Tower you have the Champs de Mars, where you can lie down in summer for a picnic, and on the opposite side, you have the Trocadero gardens.

Here are some tips to make the most of your visit to the Eiffel Tower to make the experience even better.

Buy tickets for the Eiffel Tower

2. Get cultured at the Louvre Museum and relax in the Tuileries garden

Louvre Museum|Marla Prusik
Louvre Museum|Marla Prusik

Strolling along the banks of the Seine, arriving at the Tuileries gardens that precede the Louvre Museum, sitting down to read a book in the chairs that surround its huge fountains? For me, it is one of the best Parisian experiences. By this I mean that, if the Louvre's art collection is one of the most extensive and renowned in the world, the walk to the Louvre and the environment of the museum, including the glass pyramid through which you enter, has nothing to envy.

Once you have enjoyed the area (and don't forget to see it at night) you can plan your visit to the museum. Among the best works of the Louvre you will find Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samothrace, Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People or the Code of Hammurabi. The time you need to see the Louvre is different depending on what you want to delve into, but I do not recommend less than about three hours.

Select a day and a time slot for your visit (as for the Louvre museum hours you should know that on Tuesdays it is closed and on Wednesdays and Fridays it opens later) and, above all, buy your Louvre tickets in advance because the queue to access the ticket office can last for hours.

Do not rule out the guided tour of the Louvre to make the most of the collection (if you go to the Louvre with children you will also find special tours for them) and avoid holidays when the influx of people is even greater than usual, these days there may be discounts on the price of tickets to the Louvre, but in my opinion it will not be worth it because the influx of the museum will be too much to enjoy it with tranquility.

Finally, do not forget to visit the Louvre museum store because there and in the subway shopping center you can find real wonders. I leave you also some recommendations of places to eat near the Louvre museum.

Buy tickets for the Louvre Museum

3. Stroll through Montmartre and visit the Sacre Coeur

Sacre Coeur| ©Mattia Bericchia
Sacre Coeur| ©Mattia Bericchia

Surely you have read stories about bohemian Paris and the painters and artists who flocked to the city at the dawn of the 20th century. All these stories took place in the Montmartre neighborhood, which today, surprisingly, has not lost that special charm that makes it the most visited neighborhood in Paris.

You will find this neighborhood in the north of Paris, far from the center, but well served by the Paris metro (Blanche, Pigalle or Anvers stops on line 2). The main points of interest are the Sacre Coeur, the Moulin Rouge and the Place des Painters, but the real essence is to walk its streets and cafes knowing their stories. I always recommend a guided tour of the area.

Book a guided tour of Montmartre

4. Enjoy a show at the Moulin Rouge

Mouline Rouge| ©Lola Delabays
Mouline Rouge| ©Lola Delabays

To get to the Moulin Rouge, you must enter the bohemian quarter of Paris. In the lower Montmartre, surrounded by erotic stores and neon lights, you will find the most famous cabaret in Paris, known especially for the posters of Toulouse Lautrec or the cancan dance.

Today some people think that the Moulin Rouge is a museum, but no: it still operates as a nightclub that you can attend buy tickets for the Moulin Rouge:. The price of the Moulin Rouge show is not cheap, but the experience is worth it. Whether you attend the dinner or decide to eat something near the Moulin Rouge, don't forget to visit it at night to see it illuminated and feel the real character of the area.

Buy tickets for the Moulin Rouge

5. Stroll through the Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral| ©Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz
Notre Dame Cathedral| ©Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz

It is inevitable to refer to one of Paris' most iconic monuments without shuddering a little and without mentioning the flames that devoured the structure on April 15, 2019.

Although you won't be able to go up to see the gargoyles guarding Paris from its towers, Notre Dame Cathedral is under restoration and you can walk over to the Ile de la Cité to visit it from the outside and take a stroll around. If you are a book lover, don't forget to visit the most wonderful bookstore in the world, located a few meters from the cathedral: Shakespeare and Co.

6. Discover the unknown Sainte Chapelle

Windows of the Sainte Chapelle ©Ema Suriano
Windows of the Sainte Chapelle ©Ema Suriano

It has always struck me how the Sainte Chapelle goes so unnoticed among tourists visiting Paris. This church is located just a few meters from Notre Dame and stands out for its impressive stained glass windows. It is worth entering to see the spectacle of light and crystals that, precisely because it is little known, can be enjoyed with more peace and quiet than in more crowded churches like the Sacre Coeur or Notre Dame.

Book a tour around Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle and others

7. Take a guided tour of the Paris Opera building

Opera Garnier Staircase| ©Valerian Guillot
Opera Garnier Staircase| ©Valerian Guillot

Another emblematic building is the Opera Garnier. The shows that were held in this magnificent building (you must see it both day and night, illuminated) concentrated the elite of French society and politics and those stories will tell you when you visit its sumptuous corridors and its performance hall. During the day, you can visit the building by buying tickets for a guided tour at the Opéra Garnier: and if you are in Paris at night, note that concerts and shows are still held there.

Book a guided tour of the Paris Opera House

8. Cross the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées

Arc de Triomphe|Misko
Arc de Triomphe|Misko

North of the Seine and in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle is the famous Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which you can visit from below or climb to see the city from above. If you do the latter, you will see that the skyscrapers of the Defénse de Paris (the business district), the Arc itself and the pyramid of the Louvre form a perfect straight line.

You can also take a stroll along the Avenue des Champs Elysees (if you visit Paris at Christmas time you will see that the tree decorations are a marvel) browsing the many shop windows that line both sides of it.

9. Stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens| ©Juanedc
Luxembourg Gardens| ©Juanedc

Paris is a city of large green spaces and one of the most well-kept and also one of the most visited is the Luxembourg Gardens, south of the Seine River. Its design, fountains and flowers are worth a visit, but don't just go there to do the tourist check: sit and read, buy an ice cream and watch the daily life of Paris move in this park. The hustle and bustle of Paris stops in these impeccable gardens within which you will also find the palace that gives them their name.

10. Fall in love with the Musée D'Orsay

D'orsay Museum| ©Johan Mouchet
D'orsay Museum| ©Johan Mouchet

After the Louvre, this is the most visited museum in Paris and, for many people, their favorite. The Musée d'Orsay has works by Monet, Rodin, Cézanne or Gauguin among its collection, it is distributed on several floors and its layout is perfect for a visit.

In the center of the Musée d'Orsay there is a main gallery with statues and sculptures and bathed by a spectacular light; on the sides of it the different rooms are continuously distributed. The smaller crowds compared to the Louvre allow you to enjoy this visit at your leisure (I recommend you set aside a couple of hours). Read more about this and other museums in the guide to the best museums in Paris.

Book your tickets for the Musée d'Orsay

11. Have fun at the Pompidou Museum

Pompidou Center| ©Luis Tamayo
Pompidou Center| ©Luis Tamayo

In a city as cosmopolitan as Paris, contemporary art has a lot to say and a visit to the George Pompidou museum is a good proof of that. In the Pompidou you will see one of the largest collections of contemporary art in Europe with works by Duchamp, Kandinsky, Picasso and Matisse, but also original assemblies of other authors that will make you have a good time during the visit.

The Pompidou is a museum to have a good time, have fun and enjoy art while learning, that's why I always say that the Pompidou is an ideal museum to visit if you travel to Paris with children. Read more in this article about the best museums in Paris.

Book a private guided tour of the Pompidou Museum

12. Visit Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides

The Invalides| ©Brieuc DANIEL
The Invalides| ©Brieuc DANIEL

Near the Champs de Mars is the architectural complex of Les Invalides. It certainly catches the eye with its large golden dome, but what is really in that building? The answer is a military museum and a church that contains the mortal remains of Napoleon. If you are interested in the eras of the French Revolution and World War II, here you will find a huge collection of weapons and objects related to those periods.

Book a guided tour of Les Invalides

13. Stroll through the Latin Quarter and the Pantheon

The Pantheon
The Pantheon

Neoclassical style and inspired by the Roman Pantheon, is one of the main buildings of the Latin Quarter. Its subway galleries or its high vault are the main attractions of the guided tour that can be done inside, but seeing it from the outside and, incidentally, walk the streets of this area is worth it.

Book a tour of the Latin Quarter in Paris

14. Climb the Montparnasse Tower observation deck

View from the observation deck of the Montparnasse Tower| ©Henrique Ferreira
View from the observation deck of the Montparnasse Tower| ©Henrique Ferreira

South of Paris you will find one of the best viewpoints in Paris from which you will get fantastic views of the city. The Montparnasse Tower is not on this list because it is particularly beautiful, far from it (in fact, it breaks the Parisian skyline), but the views from there are worth it both because of the height (it is not as high as the Eiffel Tower, so you can see the city in more detail) and because you do not see the tower itself.

15. Take a guided tour of Paris

The Eiffel Tower at night| ©Cameron Barnes
The Eiffel Tower at night| ©Cameron Barnes

When you have little time in a city or you are just passing through, my recommendations will always be twofold: hire a transfer from the airport to save time on the idea and on the way back and, if you can only choose one tourist activity, choose a guided walking tour of the city center. In Paris, due to the size of the city, there is a lot to choose from and the tours are usually organized covering the best neighborhoods of Paris.

This article on the different guided tours you can take in Paris summarizes the most interesting ones. For example, the night tour of Paris can be a very good opportunity to see the city illuminated, but do not rule out any area of the city, each neighborhood has a different charm!

Book a guided tour of Paris

16. Relax during a cruise on the Seine River

Seine River Cruise| ©Joe deSousa
Seine River Cruise| ©Joe deSousa

Taking a boat ride on the Seine is one of the most demanded activities in the French capital. The layout of the city's monuments allows you to see many of them from the river and this type of cruise is a perfect opportunity to do it in an original and relaxed way.

Due to its great demand, there are different options such as a dinner cruise on the Seine or a night cruise on the Seine, suitable for all budgets. We tell you all about them in the practical guide on the best cruises you can do on the Seine.

Book a cruise on the Seine

17. Go back to your childhood at Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris| ©Mathis Jrdl
Disneyland Paris| ©Mathis Jrdl

One can hardly be objective in this recommendation: we all have a child in us and many of us love amusement parks, especially theme parks and especially Disneyland. Kids and adults alike have a long list of things to see and do at Disneyland Paris.

If you go with kids it is an almost mandatory visit. If you are not going with children, but you are going to spend several days in Paris, I recommend that you take advantage of a getaway. It is easily accessible from the center of Paris and the experience for movie and attraction lovers is well worth it. If you are thinking of making this visit, I recommend that you read the article on how to buy tickets for Disneyland: and that you consult both the Disney park opening hours and how to get to Disneyland from Paris. A good planning is key to save time (you will lose enough in the queues for many of the attractions of the Disney parks) and money (keep in mind that eating inside the Disney park is already an extra expense) in this experience.

As for time, depending on the number of days you spend in the park, the tips for visiting Disneyland Paris will be different. I leave you with this list that, regardless of the option you choose, will help you:

Finally, if you want my opinion on what is the best time to visit Disneyland Paris, I have it clear: visiting the Disney park at Christmas or living the magic of Disneyland on Halloween are the best options.

Buy tickets for Disneyland Paris

18. Travel back in time from the Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles| ©Anthony Choren
Palace of Versailles| ©Anthony Choren

We all know the history of the rise of absolutism and its fall with the French Revolution, but to visit the Palace and gardens of Versailles is to relive it in each of its rooms. History aside, a visit to Versailles is a must both for the sumptuousness of the palace and its impressive gardens.

Any excursion to the Palace of Versailles from Paris: it will take you almost a whole day and you can reach Versailles from the center of Paris by train or hire an independent transport and a guided tour.

When planning your visit check the opening hours of the Palace of Versailles, but keep in mind that the queues to buy tickets to the Palace of Versailles are about two hours minimum; book your tickets in advance will save you precious time that you can then devote to everything there is to see inside the Palace of Versailles.

If you have decided to make what is one of the best excursions from Paris, you will find useful these tips to visit Versailles (also these others to visit Versailles with children) and this post about where to eat in Versailles.

Book an excursion to Versailles from Paris

19. Tour Paris by bus

Visiting Paris by tourist bus| ©zoetnet
Visiting Paris by tourist bus| ©zoetnet

It may come as a surprise to some that one of the items on this list is the recommendation to use a tourist bus. We are going to give two reasons and both have to do with the type of city that Paris is. First, when the city is as large as this one is, it is very difficult to tour it on foot, at least in a single day.

Therefore, using the tourist bus is the perfect way to cover a large area of the city in a short amount of time, something I consider ideal for those who are short on time or want to take a general tour of the city. Also, if you buy the Paris Pass tourist card, the tourist bus is one of the attractions included.

Secondly, comfort is a factor to consider; Paris is a beautiful city and sometimes you just want to look around without taking long walks at the end of a tiring day. The panoramic conditions of this type of bus are perfect for that. Here is more information about the Paris sightseeing bus.

Book a seat on the Paris sightseeing bus

20. Visit the catacombs of Paris

Catatombs of Paris| ©MykReeve
Catatombs of Paris| ©MykReeve

If you have fallen in love with Paris on the surface, you are missing the culmination of your trip: to know the subway Paris. The catacombs of Paris are an exciting journey through the past of this city and certainly a visit more than interesting if you want to learn more about its history. Be careful, because inside the humidity is quite cold.

Buy tickets to the catacombs of Paris

Tips to make your trip to Paris as spectacular as the city itself

Elysian Fields| ©PCA Stream
Elysian Fields| ©PCA Stream

There are many tips I can give you for traveling to Paris, from the best restaurants in the city to places to eat the best crepes in Paris to recommendations for getting around the center of Paris. However, experience tells me that the first thing to consider is when you are going to visit the city and for how many days.

The best things to do in Paris in every season

Surely one of the first questions you ask yourself when planning your trip is what is the best time to visit Paris. Although it sounds cliché, every season of the year (for example) has its good things; something that is not uncommon in a city the size of the French capital.

What to do in Paris month by month

For tastes, colors. My favorite time to visit the city is Christmas, both for the Christmas markets that you can find in Paris and the Christmas lights that you will find both in the center and in the different neighborhoods of Paris. However, as with the seasons of the year, each month has its charm in the city of light:

How long will you be in Paris?

I'm not going to kid you: being in Paris for less than four days means that there are things in the city that you won't see and that's a real shame. Does that mean you can't get a feel for the city in less time? Not at all, you can always come back and if you follow these guides you will find things to do in Paris from one day to two weeks:

Transfers between Paris airports and the city

The last point is probably one of the most boring, but also one of the most important. Do you already know which airport to get to? Chares de Gaulle is the closest to the center and Beauvais the farthest, but from any of the three you can save time if you hire the transfer (either to go or to return) in advance.