I have been to Paris several times, but it has always been a part of my business trips, and I have never had enough time to actually see the city. To help other busy travelers, who usually have a day between the last meeting and flight back home, I made this itinerary with places to visit in Paris in one day. Unfortunately, it does not include all of the best tourist attractions in Paris, but at least covers the main ones.
Visiting such a big city for the first time can be overwhelming, so here is a guide with travel tips and things not to do in Paris.
Some of the links below may be affiliate links, meaning that I will get a small commission (it won’t cost you anything!) if you click and book tours or accommodation.
1. Notre Dame de Paris
I think it is a kind of logical to start your trip with Notre-Dame de Paris, the main must-see attraction of Paris. This gothic cathedral is probably the most famous church in the world after the St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. Well, the cathedral in Amiens, an easy day trip from Paris, is quite famous as well.
While the building itself is very impressive, personally I have ambiguous feelings about it. When we were in Paris, it rained a lot, and was cloudy and gloomy. We went inside the cathedral, and it was very dark, and I still remember how disappointed I was, because there was nothing special about it. I guess I have to come back to see what makes it so special 🙂 Probably, the best part about Notre-Dame de Paris is the towers, which allow to see Paris from above.
Update: please note that the towers and the cathedral are closed now. You can spend more time at the next church I mention here instead.
After visiting the Notre-Dame de Paris, head straight to Sainte-Chapelle. I am not going to lie that I visited it, I just saw it from outside, but it is really worth a visit. I bet it is much more beautiful than Notre-Dame de Paris. I still kick myself that I did not go in! This gothic church was built in the 13th century, and the glasswork is simply stunning! Depending on the light, you will see a truly magical sight. Just like Notre-Dame de Paris, it is situated on Île de la Cité, so you will pass it by on your way to the Louvre.
Some practical info: open every day, entrance fee is 10 EUR.
After Sainte-Chapelle it is time to visit another one of the most important places to see in Paris: the Louvre. This museum has thousands of historical objects from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc, and a huge collection of paintings. Of course, Mona Lisa is the most famous one, but it is really hard to see it: it is a rather small painting, and is put at a distance from the barrier. And there are always crowds in front it! It is useless to wait till the crowds clear up, because it will never happen, so use your elbows, and you might get a selfie 🙂 I would advise not to waste your time getting closer: just explore the museum, there are lots of interesting artifacts and other paintings to see.
Some practical info: open every day except Tuesdays, entrance fee is 15 EUR. Free admission for visitors under 18 years old and 18-25 years old residents of the European Economic Area. Free entrance on July 14, and on every Friday after 6 PM to everyone younger than 26 (make sure you have your ID on hand). From October to March on the first Sunday of each month, the entrance is free for all visitors.
4. Time for lunch!
This recommendation is based on Tripadvisor reviews! You may try Cojean restaurant next to the Louvre. Lots of options, including vegan, gluten free, etc.
5. Tuileries Gardens
After visiting the Louvre, head straight to the Tuileries Gardens: the entrance is free. It has a round pond with benches around, and if you are lucky enough to get a seat, sit down and enjoy the views. Don’t forget to have a look at the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel!
6. Champs-Élysées (Elysian Fields)
The Tuileries Gardens end at the Place de la Concorde, which is famous as the execution place of royals and other notable historical figures as Madame du Barry, Georges Danton, and Maximilien Robespierre. And here they are, the famous Champs-Élysées! Just stroll around and admire the architecture and lovely atmosphere. If you like shopping, that’s one of the places to do it with affordable brands as H&M and Zara, or expensive ones like Massimo Dutti or Louis Vuitton.
7. Arc du Triomphe
When strolling along the Champs-Élysées, you will eventually get to the Arc de Triomphe. While the architectural design of the arch is quite intricate, it is more famous as another place to get panoramic views over Paris.
Some practical info: open every day, works till 10:30 PM or 11 PM depending on the season, entrance fee is 12 EUR. There is a lift to the attic, and then 46 stairs to the terrace. In case the lift is not accessible (some people complained about it), you will have to climb 284 steps.
8. Eiffel tower
It is time to go to another must-see in Paris: the Eiffel Tower! Take Avenue Kléber to Trocadéro Gardens: the view from here is amazing! I advise to come to the Eiffel Tower, when it is dark outside to enjoy the show of light and color. And, frankly, the tower is quite ugly in the daylight 🙂
Some practical info: open every day till almost midnight. Visitors can get to either the second floor for 11 EUR on lift or for 7 EUR by stairs. The ticket to the upper floor is 17 EUR by lift. Reduced fees for younger people.
9. Champ de Mars
Frankly, there is nothing special about this place, except some fountains 🙂 But it is a nice place to view the tower, and if you have a scarf or a jacket, you can spread it on the grass and sit there 🙂
PS: being a progressive city, Paris is open to everyone, so check this gay Paris guide.
This is my idea on places to visit in Paris in one day. It is not going to be cheap: the total budget for the day is 64 EUR excluding meals, and if you want to save some money, probably, you might consider skipping climbing up the Arc de Triomphe, and probably even the Eiffel Tower: the view from below will be equally nice 🙂
Where to stay in Paris
Paris is one of those cities where accommodation is far from being cheap. When I search for a place to stay, I always use two options: it is either AirBnB (click here for a discount on your first booking with AirBnB) or Booking.com.
If you prefer hotels to apartments, here are some options:
The Loft Boutique Hostel offers beds in dormitories ranging from 25 to 40 EUR per night. They have private rooms as well, for 85-100 EUR.
Beautiful Belleville Hôtel & Hostel offers beds in dormitories ranging from 38 to 45 EUR per night. They have private rooms as well, for 85-120 EUR.
Le Village Montmartre by Hiphophostels offers beds in dormitories ranging from 45 to 55 EUR per night. They have private rooms as well, for 105-150 EUR.
If you are willing to splurge, consider these hotels:
Select Hotel is next to the Luxembourg Gardens. It offers private rooms for 190-315 EUR per night.
Centrally located CasaÔ offers private rooms for 195-260 EUR per night.
My Home For You Luxury B&B offers really cool rooms right in the center of Paris for 265-300 EUR per night.
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