A Perfect One Day in Paris Itinerary: Build Your Own Paris Itinerary

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Paris, the city of lights or the city of love, is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. If you only have one day in Paris, this guide has you covered! Paris is full of so many things to do and see, from world-renowned art to iconic landmarks, you’ll have a busy, fun-filled day. Paris is one of those cities where you could keep going back to and still have something new to do each time! We’ve traveled there twice and our Paris bucket list is still nowhere near complete!

This guide will help you plan how to see the highlights of Paris in one day! We recommend picking about four to five activities for your day. We have this guide broken down that you can pick one or two activities per themed activity to build your own Paris itinerary. If you’re interested in doing a lot of things that have admission in Paris, it would be helpful to get the Paris Pass! It’s a sightseeing pass that gets you into a lot of the museums and sites in Paris at a single cost! 

If you have more time in Paris, don’t worry! You can use this to build your own itinerary guide to create your longer Paris itinerary! Keep reading to get started on building your own one day in Paris itinerary!

Create Your One Day in Paris Itinerary

Getting Around Paris

The Métropolitain, with its Art Nouveau signage, is an easy way to get around Paris. There are multiple pass options depending on what you’re interested in doing. Single-day passes are the most cost-effective at $9-12 if you’re planning on riding around a lot in the day. If not, you can buy single ride passes at $2.

If you need help using the metro system, download the app Citymapper! All you need to do is put in your destination and it will show you all the public transit options from where you’re located. It works in many of the major cities in Europe and will give you real-time updates about the metro and bus system.

Some of the highlights in Paris are within a decent walking distance of one another (i.e. 15-20 minutes). But other sites are much further, so map out your day before you get started so you know whether you’ll need to be using the metro. There are also hop-on hop-off buses available around the city if you’re interested! Miro from Cairo let us in on a secret that these bus tours are great if you’re visiting Paris with kids!

If you’re looking to get a more in-depth and local experience in Paris, consider booking a local guide!

Top Things to Do in Paris France

If you’re visiting the city for the first time, make sure you prepare and don’t make any of these Paris travel mistakes!

Must-Do: The Eiffel Tower

Visiting the Eiffel Tower is a must for one day in Paris. Whether you’re a first-time traveler to Paris, or a repeat traveler, going up the Eiffel Tower offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Yes, it’s very touristic, but it’s one of the top things to do in Paris. (Disneyland Paris actually gets more annual visitors!)

The Eiffel Tower was originally constructed for one of the World Fairs. There is lots of space around the Tower to take beautiful photos. If you get off the metro at Trocadero, you can get beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower from across the park! Going up in the Eiffel Tower is worth it if you’re interested in the panoramic views of Paris. But the lines can be very long for tickets and getting inside. We have never gone all the way to the top, but you can get tickets for the first and second levels.

It is worth going back to the Eiffel Tower at night because of the beautiful light show that is displayed at the top of the hour. You can also go up the Tower at night for a different perspective!

You can either buy tickets for going the entire way up or to the lower levels. The view from the lower levels is just as beautiful as the top! Make sure to allow some time for visiting the Tower, it’s one of the busiest sites in Paris. Going up in the Eiffel Tower is a different experience depending on if you visit at night or during the day. Both night and day views are breathtaking! When you visit at night, you’ll get to see the Tower’s light show!

Where: Central Paris Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France

What: The most famous monument in Paris

Metro Access: Trocadero Line 9

Cost: Up to 25 Euro

Tip: One cool thing about Paris is that you can experience so many highlights of the city in one day! Learn about what you can see in one day with this itinerary!

Must Do: Walk (and Shop) on the Champs Élysées

The Champs is one of the most famous boulevards in the world, stretching 1.2 miles from the Arc de Triomphe to the Champs Élysées Gardens. Along the Champs Élysées, you’ll find the finest of shopping. Start at the Arc de Triomphe so you can gaze, or go up, this beautiful monument dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives for France. Then take a nice stroll down the Champs Élysées.

Where: Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France

What: Every shopaholic’s dream destination

Metro Access: Line 1 George V, Line 1, 9 Franklin D Roosevelt, Line 1, 2, or 6 Charles de Gaulle Etoile

Cost: Free to walk, $$$ to shop, 12 Euro to climb the Arc de Triomphe

Recommended Art and Culture Experiences in Paris

Pick One Art Museum: The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Rodin Outdoor Museum, or Musée de l’Orangerie

If you’re hoping to see some art in Paris, you have lots of options! Since the museums are so large, even if you want to see only a few pieces, visiting a museum will take up a good amount of time. We would recommend leaving 2 hours in your itinerary for a museum. And since the Louvre has long security and ticket lines, you might need to leave some more time depending on the length of that day. If you’re an avid museum-goer, it’s easy to fill an entire day in a museum! And

The Louvre

The Louvre is very overwhelming. It’s massive and the most highlighted pieces are scattered throughout the museum. Since you only have one day in Paris, it’s best to plan what you want to see in the Louvre before you go so you don’t waste too much time making decisions or getting lost! The top pieces to see include the Mona Lisa, Venus, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Liberty Leading the People. And of course, the glass pyramid in the courtyard!

Where: Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France

What: One of the most famous museums in the world

Metro Access: Line 1, 7 Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre, Line 14 Pyramides

Cost: 17 Euro online with rapid entry

Musée d’Orsay

If you’re interested in Impressionist work, you won’t find any at the Louvre! The Impressionists are housed in their own museum, Musée d’Orsay. The museum is conveniently located across the river from the Louvre! Here, you can see the works of Degas, Van Gogh, Renoir and many, many others!

Where: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris, France

What: An Impressionist art museum

Metro Access: Line 12 Solférino

Cost: 12 Euro

Rodin Garden and Museum

You know the famous sculpture of “The Thinker?” Well, that’s in Paris at the Robin Sculpture Garden and Museum. If you want to see Rodin’s famous sculpture work, you can do so at this beautiful outdoor museum and garden.

Where: Musée Rodin, 77 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France

What: Home of “The Thinker” and so much more

Metro Access: Varenne on line 13 or Invalides line 13, line 8

Cost: 11 Euro

Musée de l’Orangerie

Located in the beautiful Tuileries Garden by the Louvre, you will find the Musée de l’Orangerie. At this museum, you can see Monet’s Water Lilies in the way he wanted them to be presented. Monet envisioned this museum to be a sanctuary for visitors from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Where: Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, 75001 PARIS

What: Monet’s masterpieces

Metro Access: Lines 1, 8, 12, Concorde station

Cost: 9 Euro

Pick One Church: Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, or Sacré Coeur

Paris is home to some beautiful, historic churches! If you only have one day in Paris, visit one of the top two, either Notre Dame or Sainte Chapelle. Notre Dame is the most popular and famous, while Sainte Chapelle is a hidden gem in Paris. If you really enjoy visiting churches, you can visit both because they are a short 5-minute walk from one another! Sacre Coeur is another church in the arts district of Montmartre that gives beautiful panoramic views of Paris!

Another Tip: If you want a full guide of Paris regarding food, transport, day trips, and places to stay check out this post here!

Notre Dame

Notre Dame is one of the most famous cathedrals in Europe. It decorated in authentic French gothic architecture is was the first church to be constructed using flying buttresses. The outside is decorated with intricate gargoyles and statues. You can climb to the bell tower inside and view one of the originals. If you’re lucky when you visit, you might get to hear mass in French!

Top Things to Do in Paris

Notre Dame is a medieval cathedral decorated with the finest examples of gothic architecture. Constructed 8 centuries ago, Notre Dame is an icon of Paris. The bell tower contains 10 bells with the original bell dating back to 1681 that still rings today. The bell towers can be toured! During a visit to Notre Dame, you can see the beautiful stained glass and artworks.

Where: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France

What: A beautiful gothic style cathedral

Metro Access: Line 4 Cité

Cost: Free, audio guides/pamphlets extra

Sainte Chapelle

If you’re interested in visiting another church not too far from Notre Dame, visit Sainte Chappelle. Sainte Chapelle is elaborately decorated on all enclosing walls with beautiful stained glass depicting biblical stories. San Chapelle was built specifically to house the crown of thorns relic and these stained-glass windows date back to the 13th century.  Over the past 20 years, the windows were restored piece by piece to bring back their luster. The church is much smaller than the grandeur of Notre Dame, but it is less busy and just as stunning!

Things to do in Paris

Where: 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France

What: A stunning church with historic stained glass

Metro Access: Line 4 Cité

Cost: 10 Euro, Get tickets here!

Sacré Coeur and Montmartre

If you want to visit a  beautiful church with panoramic views of the city in addition to crossing off Montmartre off your bucket list, visit Sacré Coeur. Sacré Coeur is in the Romano-Byzantine style, which is a great contrast compared to Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle.

Montmartre is historically known for being the neighborhood in Paris where those who were pursuing the arts would work. Artists such as Monet, Degas, and Renoir had studios here! Today, you can still see artists selling their work in Montmartre. Walking tours are a great way to see Monmartre!

What: The arts district

Metro Access: Line 2 stations at Anvers, Pigalle, and Blanche, Line 12 at Pigalle, Abbesses, Lamarck – Caulaincourt, and Jules Joffrin

For the Theatre Goer: Tour Palais Garnier

If you want to tour the opera house that inspired the Phantom of the Opera, visit the Palais Garnier. During a visit, you can do an audio tour of the public spaces and see exhibitions! If you’re really interested in the theater, you can even see a show!

What: The Paris Opera House  

Where: on the corner of rue Scribe and rue Auber 75009

Metro Access: Opéra station on Lines 3,7,8

Cost: Variable by tour options 

Sightseeing in Paris

If you still want to see lots of things in Paris without formally touring them, you can simply do a lot of sightseeing for a half day. We have put together this Google map with the highlights of Paris in this guide noted so you can plan what you want to sightsee!

Finish Off Your Day

End Your Day in Paris with Evening River Cruise

After a long day touring the city, take some time to relax and consider doing a Seine River Cruise! These cruises during sunset take you along the Seine River and under some Paris’s beautiful, historic bridges. Many allow you to bring your own wine, so grab and bottle and enjoy your evening!

Where: Along the Seine

What: Romantic sunset views

Cost: Variable by tour

See a Cabaret Show

First Time Traveler's Guide to Paris

Paris is known for its famed Moulin Rouge cabaret show. If you’re feeling it, see a cabaret show to end your day in Paris. We saw the less risque show, Nouvelle Eve, which was very entertaining with its musical numbers and comedy skits. Each ticket included a glass of champagne and a night of fun. I still get some of the songs stuck in my head every once in a while!

Where: The Redlight District

What: Some evening fun

Metro: Blanche Line 2

Cost: Variable

Where (and What) to Eat in Paris

Have Your Own Picnic in a Garden

Paris is home to some beautiful gardens, so stop by a local market and pick up some bread, cheese, wine, and dessert and make yourself a picnic lunch! The Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens are beautiful, especially in the summer and spring. Built-in 1564 by Queen Catherine de’ Medici, the Tuileries Garden is a stone’s throw from the Louvre. The Garden remained royal property until after the French Revolution where it became a public park. Take a walk around and enjoy the 17th-century sculptures and beautiful foliage.

Picnic with the Bees at the Luxembourg Gardens

The Luxembourg Gardens, located near the Gothic Quarter is another beautiful garden fashioned after the Bobili Gardens in Florence, Italy. These gardens also feature a unique aspect of Parisian history, beekeeping. The beehives, located in the corner of the gardens near the rue de Fleuris entrance, were founded in 1856 by Henri Hamet. The beekeeping school across the way is still active, teaching the skills of beekeepers. If you want to feel like a local in the evening, take your picnic down to the Seine riverside during sunset. See the Luxembourg Gardens and Beehives below!

Paris Bucket List
Luxembourg Gardens
Things to Do in Paris
Luxembourg Gardens Beehives

Alternative Things to Do in Paris

Have Some Macarons

Macaroons are a must have if you’re visiting Paris. Pierre Hermé Is a great place to get macarons. Ladurée is another fairytale-like restaurant and luxury bakery that dates to 1862. Although an international chain now, the food and pastries are still very delicious and worth visiting if it makes your bucket list!

Have Some Crepes

Having crepes are must in France as well. These thin pancakes can be filled with both sweet and savory depending on your mood. When we visited, we visited a lot of places for crepes! We honestly think that any crepe place you go to will be delicious! 

Au Bistrot de la Montagne

If you want a taste of the classic French dishes, visit this restaurant! They have everything from escargot to onion soup! It’s also located in the Latin Quarter, another famous neighborhood in Paris! 

Where: 38 Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève, 75005 Paris, France

What: French Classics restaurant

Cost: $$-$$

Le Départ Saint Michel

This restaurant was a very nice spot for lunch not too far from Notre Dame. The location was beautiful along the river and wasn’t too expensive for the famed landmark nearby! After your meal, take a minute to walk around the Saint Michel Fountain, another beautiful landmark in Paris.

Where: 1 Place Saint Michel, 75005 Paris, France

What: More French classics restaurant

Cost: $$-$$

Tips for Visiting Paris:

Paris is unfortunately known for its pickpockets. But other cities have this reputation as well. For both ladies and gents, bringing crossbody bag is a good option so you can keep an eye on your bag in crowds.

Where to Stay in Paris

An affordable hotel chain: Hotel ibis Clichy-Batignolles 

The Hotel ibis chain is a great option for the bigger cities in Europe. They’re affordable, offer excellent breakfasts, and are very comfortable. There are quite a few scattered through Paris so you can take your pick! We stayed at Hotel ibis Clichy-Batignolles, which was a short metro ride to Montmartre.

An Apart’hotel: Citadines la Defense

We stayed at Citadines the first time we traveled to Paris and it was lovely. It’s located near the business district and a short metro ride to the Arc de Triomphe! Citadines offers apartment style rooms which were a very nice feature! Like Hotel ibis, Citadines is a chain throughout the city.

If You Have 2 to 3 Days in Paris…

If you get to have more than one day in Paris, you can pick more from this guide to build your itinerary. We recommend planning 3-5 activities per day so you have enough time at each place without feeling rushed. Look at a map too while you’re planning your days so you can plan the logistics of getting from place to place. And so you don’t waste a lot of time traveling between things!

Take a Day Trip to Versailles

Visiting the Palace of Versailles is a great day trip from Paris! The Palace of Versailles was the residence of the Kings of France from Louis XIV in 1682 until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. Here, you can tour the lavish rooms and see how the Kings and Queens lived during the 17th century. During the summer, the gardens are stunning and beautiful to stroll around!

Where: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France

What: a historic palace with beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces

Access: See website for details

Cost: Up to 27 Euro depending on the tour package, advanced ticketing is highly recommended

Do Something Unique: Visit a Perfume Museum

If you want to do something more off the map in Paris, visit the Fragonard Perfume Museum and learn all about luxury perfume! You can learn more about this museum on our blog here!

Visit Père Lachaise Cemetery

Another unique option for more time in Paris is to visit the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Here, you can see the resting places of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde among other famous icons. The cemetery is located slightly outside of the city center, so it would a great option for people with more time in the city!

If you’re a fan of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, or Frédéric Chopin, you can visit their final resting place at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. The cemetery is largest in Paris, the most visited in the world, and is noted as the first garden cemetery. The graves range from simple, unadorned headstones to monuments and mini chapels.

Alternative Things to do in Paris

Where: 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France

What: A peaceful resting place

Metro Access: Line 2 and 3 Père Lachaise

Cost: Free

Who’s ready to start planning a trip to Paris?

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