If you are thinking of going to Paris, I am happy for you – and perhaps a little envious too. This is a city I hopelessly love, probably my favorite in Europe and definitely one of my favorites in the world.
Last time I visited, I spent a full week in Paris and it still felt like I didn’t have enough time. Speaking of time, you may be wondering “is 2 days in Paris enough?” Ideally, I’d suggest a minimum of four; but I appreciate you may not have that much time.
Indeed, let me tell you: 2 days in Paris are definitely not enough – with that amount of time, you can just scratch the surface. But if two days is all you have, you may as well try to make the most of it.
The key to that is to follow a carefully planned itinerary, so that you manage to see places that are close one to the other and avoid spending too much time commuting. You also have to get tickets to the attractions you want to visit in advance – that’s because they almost all work on a time-slot schedule.
If you have no idea where to start planning, continue reading. I have drafted a great itinerary that will help you make the most of Paris in 2 days. It’s perfect if it is your first time in the city as it takes you to all the main attractions. If you feel it is too packed and you want to go at a more relaxed pace, feel free to drop a place or two from the selection I have made for you.
Quick Tips To Make The Most Of Paris In 2 Days
This 2 days in Paris itinerary is based on the assumption that you are spending 2 days in Paris, which means you are planning on sleeping there 3 nights. Having said that, here are some things to consider:
HEADING OUT EARLY IS A MUST – I am afraid there is no such thing as sleeping in.
STICK TO THE PLAN – This itinerary is crafted in a way that will have you visit attractions that are close to each other. Use public transport to get to the starting point, and back to the hotel once you are done exploring. Unfortunately there is little time for spontaneity, but I promise I have picked a couple of Paris hidden gems too. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes!
HAVE A QUICK LUNCH – There are plenty of brasseries and cafés, as well as bakeries where you grab lunch: a salad, a sandwich or a lovely quiche if you want something a bit more local. Opt for a full meal at dinner.
BOOK ALL THE ATTRACTIONS YOU WANT TO VISIT – Most of them require you to do so anyways.
For more information and if you have more time in Paris, head over to my post The Best Places To Visit In Paris.
2 Days In Paris – Itinerary Overview
Here is a quick overview of this 2 days in Paris itinerary:
A packed day with a number of unmissable attractions:
- Sainte Chapelle
- Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral
- Louvre Museum
- Arc de Triomphe
- Seine River Criuse
- Eiffel Tower
A slightly more relaxing day. The itinerary below can be followed in reverse order too:
- Moulin Rouge and Pigalle
- Sacre Coeur Basilica
- Museé d’Orsay
- Opera Palais Garnier
- Centre Pompidou
- Montparnasse Tower
A Day By Day Itinerary For 2 Days In Paris
Map of day one
To see the map of your day 1 itinerary, click here. On this day, it’s best to take the subway to get from the Louvre to Arc de Triomphe and, depending on how the day is going, from there to the Trocadero. You will embark your Seine river cruise right from the Eiffel Tower.
Sainte Chapelle is one of the most iconic places in Paris and easily one of the most beautiful and unique looking churches you will ever visit.
It’s a 13th century Gothic church with floor to ceiling stained glass windows and it will blow your mind with its beauty. You can’t help but stand in awe of it, and take about a million photos.
It will take you around one hour to explore all of it.
Sainte Chapelle is open every day except for 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. The church opens at 9:00 am, so aim to be there a bit earlier as there may be a line to go through security.
Saint Chapel works on a time-slot system. You will have to book your tickets in advance and pick a time slot on the site – I recommend opting for the earliest one, which is at 9:00 am.
Tickets to Saint Chapelle can be bought online on the official website of Saint Chapelle. They are also included in the Paris Museum Pass, which is actually very convenient when you visit many attractions.
You can also get tickets to Saint Chapelle on GetYourGuide. The good thing about using GetYourGuide rather than the official site is that while tickets have the exact same price as the official site, they come with free cancellation and the site is much easier to navigate!
Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
Paris’ most famous church, Notre-Dame, is actually very close to Saint Chapelle. The church was completed in 1345, after around 200 years of construction works.
It would make sense to include it in this Paris in 2 days itinerary. It’s honestly a magnificent sight. The first time I visited Paris, I caught a first glimpse of it as I walked up the stairs of the RER station, having just arrived, and I was gobsmacked by its beauty!
Sadly, on 15 April 2019, a fire terribly damaged the church, which is currently closed to visits – the foreseen new opening day is supposed to be 8 December 2024. I suggest checking it out from the outside – it remains a must see.
Since you can’t go in, I thought I’d instead suggest the visit of the Palais-Royal, which is free to visit and very close to the Louvre so perfect for this itinerary.
Of all the museums in Paris, this is one you can’t skip, but also one of the most popular attractions in the city.
Once a fortress, the Louvre was turned into an art gallery in the 1700s. It houses some of the finest paintings and sculptures in the world, including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, and lots of art from ancient Greece too (among others). Other than that, the Louvre is a gorgeous building to explore in and of itself, with fine ceilings, large rooms, marble floors and a grand exterior.
While a day would not be enough to properly explore the Louvre, if you only have 2 days in Paris and are planning to visit more attractions you should really limit your time there to three hours at most.
One thing to keep in mind when visiting the Louvre is that there will be a line to get in, and at times tickets get sold out – especially in the peak summer months. I really recommend getting tickets in advance before your visit. This way, you can go directly to the fast track security line.
In fact, the Louvre also works on a time-slot system, and you will have to pick one for your visit.
It will take you around 20 minutes to walk from Notre-Dame to the Louvre, so by the time you get there it will be around 11:00 am. Book your ticket or tour for just about that time. If, on the other hand, you would rather skip the church, head straight to the Louvre for its opening time at 9:00 am.
There are various ways to get tickets. Let me outline them below:
First of all, you can obviously use the Louvre official website. This is hardly my favorite way of getting tickets as the site can be a bit confusing.
Tickets to the Louvre with fast track access are also included in the Paris Museum Pass, but you will need to book your time-slot separately on the official website.
You can also get fast track tickets to the Louvre on Tiqets, which is a third party booking site.
There’s also GetYourGuide that sells Louvre tickets, again a third party booking site. On both sites you can select a time slot and tickets cost as much as on the official website – but these sites are much more user friendly and they often have last minute availability when everything seems to be sold out on the official website.
You also have the option of joining a masterpieces guided tour of the Louvre – which is a great idea as it will take you to the masterpieces and the guide will be managing the crowds for you, while you just enjoy the art. The great thing about this tour is that it also has free cancellation.
Finally, you can join this excellent The Complete Louvre Tour: Mona Lisa & Beyond – it’s run by the very reputable Take Walks which is a guarantee of quality. Their tours are always perfect! Again, this tour has free cancellation.
The Louvre is open every day but Tuesdays. It is is closed on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. Again, make sure to check the opening hours on the official website.
Make sure to read my post How To Get Tickets To The Louvre.
Palais-Royal used to be the home of Cardinal Richelieu, who lived there until his death in 1642. It was then the home of Philippe II Duke of Orléans. It now houses the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture.
Palais-Royal is really close to the Louvre so you can quickly pop in for some photos of the fun striped columns art installation. If you feel like you don’t have time, you can simply skip it.
Palais-Royal usually opens at 7:00 or 7:30 am and closes late. Visiting is free.
Arc de Triomphe
Built to celebrate war victories and to pay homage to the many people who died during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, the Arc is located on Place de l’Etoile, at the western end of the Champs-Elysées, and dominates a massive roundabout that is almost impossible to cross (but there is an underpass!).
Of course it’s great to see this gorgeous 50-meters (164 feet) arch from up close, but if you have the chance, you should definitely go up for one of the most impressive views of the city. For that you will need to either take the elevator to the top, or – if you are feeling fit – climb the steps.
Once at the top, you will enjoy incredible views that span all the way to La Défense – Paris business district, and include the Eiffel Tower. On the way out, the stairs offer a good photo opportunity too.
The site is open daily, usually until late – opening times vary depending on the season so you may want to check them on the official Arc de Triomphe website. It is closed on 1 January, 1 May, 8 May (morning), 14 July (morning), 11 November (morning) and 25 December.
For more photo opportunities in Paris, stop at the Trocadero. It’s on the way from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower, on the opposite side of the Seine River from the tower. It usually is quite crowded so don’t expect to have it all to yourself, but alas, the view of the tower in the background is memorable.
River Seine Cruise
For yet more stunning views of Paris, you should definitely go on a cruise along the Seine River. Of course, following this itinerary by now you will have had quite a few panoramas, but this one is different and totally worth it!
Depending on the time of year you are actually visiting Paris, you may even be able to cruise in time for sunset.
Most cruises last around one hour – unless they include dinner. They more or less all follow the same itinerary and make stops for you to see several landmarks of Paris which include the Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre, the Orsay Museum and obviously the Eiffel Tower.
In fact, if you are following this Paris in 2 days itinerary you should hop on a cruise at the dock right outside the Eiffel Tower.
Once again, the Paris Museum Pass includes tickets for a Seine River cruise. Otherwise, you can opt for this cruise that departs right outside the Eiffel Tower and includes an audio-guide commentary in a variety of languages.
For more information, I recommend reading my post How To Pick The Best Seine River Cruise.
I have opted to leave the Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel in French) as the last place to visit for the day because it is open until very late – so that you have more time to explore the rest of the city. It’s probably the most iconic attraction in town, and a must-visit if it is your first time in Paris.
The tower was built in 1889 for the World Expo. It is 324 meters (1,063 feet) tall and it used to be the tallest building in France. It now is the highest man made observation deck in Europe, at 276 meters (905.5 feet).
By the end of the day, you will have already see the Eiffel Tower from a variety of perspectives – from the Arc de Triomphe, from the Trocadero and during your Seine River Cruise. And if you want, you can even see it from the beautiful gardens at its back (the Champ de Mars, a popular local as well as tourist spot for picnics in the spring and summer season).
But trust me, you don’t want to miss the chance of going up the tower. The views from the second floor and from the summit are out of this world. You can see all the way to Montmartre Sacre Coeur so make sure you have a good camera to capture great photos!
You really need to get tickets in advance to go up the Eiffel Tower – there will be lines at the security check, but at least you can skip that at the ticket office.
For the best price on Eiffel Tower Tickets, you should use the official Eiffel Tower site – however keep in mind that tickets bought on the official website are not refundable.
Otherwise, you can use the Paris Museum Pass – but you will have to book a time slot for your visit directly on the Eiffel Tower site. Even better, you can use the Paris City Card which allows you to pick a time slot directly.
Since this is your last stop for the day, if you are feeling particularly romantic (or simply hungry!) you may want to actually dine on the Eiffel Tower. There are a couple of restaurants there – both of them require advanced reservations and they are not ideal if you are spending 2 days in Paris on a budget.
For a fine dining experience I recommend Jules Verne on the second floor: it is a Michelin starred restaurant, so quite expensive.
For something more easygoing, you may prefer dining at the also delicious Madame Brasserie on the first floor.
The Eiffel Tower is open every day. Keep in mind that closing time differs between stairs and elevator so you should check the official website for more accurate timings.
Make sure to read my post How To Get Tickets To The Eiffel Tower.
Map of day two
Download a map of your day 2 itinerary here. Use public transportation to get to Blanche, and then back from Montmartre to the Musee d’Orsay. You can easily follow this itinerary in reverse and start at Montparnasse Tower.
The Moulin Rouge is the birthplace of the can-can dance and the most iconic landmark in the area of Pigalle, and home to what is probably the most famous cabaret show in the world.
Unless you decide to see a show, you can’t actually visit inside. Nevertheless, you should stop by on your way to Montmartre (it’s right by the subway station, so you can’t miss it!) to at least take a photo of the iconic windmill.
This Romano-Byzantine basilica is located on the top of Montmartre hill – the highest summit in Paris – from where the views of the city are absolutely breathtaking. As you can imagine, this is a truly beautiful panoramic spot, so it can be quite crowded especially at weekends – you will likely have to share the views with many other people.
Construction of the church started in 1875 and took a long time – it was only completed in 1914, which is when it should have been consecrated. However, the starting of World War I caused further delays and the church was only consecrated in 1914.
Visiting the church is free, but there is a fee to pay if you want to climb the towers. If you take a tour of Montmartre (more about that in a bit), this will be one of the stops.
This is one most charming areas of Paris. You will get the feel of a quite bohemian neighborhood, with lovely brasseries, bakeries and cafés; nice art galleries and boutiques, and beautiful cobbled alleys.
This is the area where, at the end of the 19th century, artists such as Monet, Renoir, Modigliani and even Van Gogh lived. Now, you can get your portrait or caricature painted by a local artist in the popular Place du Tertre.
A guided tour of Montmartre is a good idea to make the most of this lovely neighborhood. I took this Montmartre 2 hour walking tour and found the guide to be extremely knowledgeable and the tour nicely paced.
One thing you may want to be aware of is that Montmartre, and especially the area of the Sacre Coeur, is full of touts and pickpockets. Keep your belonging safe, your eyes open and don’t accept anything from strangers – one of the most common scams is the friendship bracelet, where a stranger ties a bracelet on your wrist and then demands money for it.
You should also read my post The Best Things To Do In Montmartre.
If you decide to visit two museums during your 2 days in Paris, the first one should definitely be the Louvre, but the second one has to be Musee d’Orsay, on the south bank of the Seine River.
This museum has fantastic collection of impressionist art with pieced dating from circa 1848. The permanent exhibit includes the works of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne and many more. Look out for special exhibits too – there was one about Degas when I visited.
The building is actually gorgeous too: it once was a train station (Gare D’Orsay, built for the universal expo) and quite impressive. If you actually go upstairs and catch a glimpse of the clock, it is stunning!
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, except on Thursdays when it closes at 9:45 pm. It is closed on Mondays. You need to reserve a time slot and get your ticket in advance for your visit.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To Visiting Musée d’Orsay.
Opera Palais Garnier
The Opera Palais Garnier is the impressive main theater of Paris. It fits perfectly in this itinerary as it is on the way from Montmartre to Orsay Museum, so I thought I’d add it. If you feel it is too much to do in one day, you can simply skip it and take the subway all the way to Orsay.
Theater and opera lovers, on the other hand, should definitely consider adding an opera night to this itinerary as it is quite a special thing to do in Paris. Otherwise, it is quite an impressive place to visit even if you are not attending a show.
Tours with a live guide and in English can be booked directly through the official website of the the Opera Palais Garnier. They last about 1.5 hours. Otherwise, you can just get admission tickets here.
Not nearly as visited as other museums in Paris, I have thought of adding the Centre Pompidou to this 2 days in Paris itinerary for many reasons. First of all, it is not nearly as famous among tourists as other attractions in the French capital, which means it is never too crowded.
Additionally, it is located in the lovely Marais neighborhood which I love (the picture above captures a very local scene right outside the museum!). It is open late which means that you have plenty of time to get there if you decide to visit. Finally, you can catch some lovely views from its balcony.
The main thing to see here is the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest Museum of Modern Art in Europe. Here you will be able to admire the works of prominent 20th century artists such as Picasso, Warhol, Kandinsky, and Duchamp.
Montparnasse is one of the nicest neighborhood in the French capital.
This is where you will find Montparnasse Tower. Built in the early 1970s, with its 210 meters (689 feet), this is Paris’ second highest building. The tower is in and of itself a rather ugly building, but from there you can enjoy impressive views of the Eiffel Tower, the Montparnasse district and La Defense.
If you decide to follow this day’s itinerary as it is, you will go up likely around sunset time and the view will be absolutely magical (and romantic).
The observation deck of Montparnasse Tower is open daily from 9:30 am. It closes later at the weekend. Admission to the rooftop terrace is included in the Paris Museum Pass, or else you can also get it here.
Practical Tips To Enjoy Your 2 Days In Paris
Best time to visit Paris
This is the ultimate question! Some would suggest that any time is a good time to visit Paris; others will tell you that you should completely avoid the summer months – especially July and August – as that’s when the city is most crowded. But that is also when the weather is nice.
May and September – right before and after the summer – are great options if you want plenty of sun and longer day.
I find that a good compromise is October – that’s when I visited the first time and I found great weather, days that were still fairly long, and not nearly the same amount of crowds that you’d find at other times of year.
Where to stay in Paris
If you plan to spend 2 days in Paris, you will want to book a hotel or apartment that is nicely located close to the subway station and from where you can move across town easily. I recommend staying in Les Marais as it is close to the Louvre and Notre-Dame, it is very safe and there are good restaurants and cafés.
Here are some good places to stay in Le Marais:
- HOTEL SAINT-LOUIS MARAIS – Good sized, modern rooms in a stylish settings. Breakfast is an add-on.
- HOTEL DUO – Rooms at this hotel are incredibly modern. The superior rooms are significantly bigger.
- HOTEL DE JOSEPHINE BONAPARTE – Located in a former convent, rooms are incredibly quirky and unique.
Using a Paris Museum Pass for your 2 days in Paris
A Paris Museum Pass or a Paris City Card may be convenient as they includes skip the line tickets to many attractions, as well as transportation (make sure to double check though), and may help you save a bit in a city that is otherwise terribly expensive – they are ideal if you are spending 2 days in Paris on a budget.
Here is a very brief overview of what you can expect:
Paris Museum Pass – this is the most popular option. You just pick the duration of your pass and then you can use it to book the places you want to visit. In fact, remember that separate bookings should be made on the official website of each attraction where necessary.
Paris City Card – I personally like this option as it gives me the possibility of booking the time slots for the attractions I want to visit directly on the site, without having to go back and forth with the attractions’ official sites.
How to get to Paris
Paris can be easily reached by either by plane or train.
Charles de Gaulle Airport is the main hub for Air France, which has convenient flights from many airports in the US and Europe.
The train is the fastest and cheapest option to travel to the center of Paris from Charles de Gaulle and from a variety of other destinations in France and Europe.
Alternatively, if you are coming from the airport you can count on private transfers.
You can book your private transfer from the airport to the city center via Welcome Pickups here.
Make sure to read my post How To Get From Charles De Gaulle Airport CDG To Paris.
How to move around Paris
The subway (Metropolitan in French) is the most convenient and budget friendly way to move around Paris, and you can count on an infinite web of buses and trams too.
You can get tickets at any of the vending machines at the station, otherwise you can get the Navigo Card, which costs €2 and can be easily topped up whenever you need. You can get your Navigo Card at any ticket office in any station.
You have the option of getting a day ticket, an individual ticket, or a carnet of 10 tickets. To top it up, you can go to the ticket office at the station or – more conveniently – use the Bonjour RATP app which works on both Andrioid and iOS.
You may also want to consider getting a 2-days hop-on hop-off bus ticket to take you to the various attractions. These kind of buses usually provide you with a headset so that while you are on it, you also get some guidance about the things you see. You can get your ticket here.
Other useful tips and information
Can you drink tap water in Paris?
Yes! Unless there is a sign that says you can’t drink it, tap water is safe to drink in Paris. I recommend bringing your own water bottle. I normally use a Super Sparrow water bottle as it keeps my water cold for many hours. It comes in a variety of sizes, styles and colors.
Luggage storage in Paris
You will find luggage storage facilities close to train and bus stations and often right in the terminal. Storage starts at €5 per day. BagBnB is a good place to look for the nearest or most convenient location and to book your storage.
Get a data plan for your smartphone
You will definitely have Wi-Fi at your accommodation in Paris, but for your 2 days in Paris you should make sure you can use your phone in France and consider getting a data plan so you can easily use apps such as Google Maps to help you get around (it will even tell you what time the next bus is leaving!) or the Bonjour RATP app to top up your Navigo card.
Mind touts and pickpockets
Paris is generally a safe city even for solo female travelers. My first time there I was actually alone and never had any issue at all!
Touts and pickpockets are quite common in Paris. You will definitely spot touts around popular tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and in Montmartre, and pickpockets are definitely active on the subway and on any crowded bus or train.
I have already mentioned the infamous friendship bracelet scam, but you should also read about the others in my post The Worst Scams In Paris.
Get a good travel insurance
Make sure to read my other posts about Paris and its attractions:
- The Best Paris Travel Tips
- A Wonderful Itinerary For 5 Days In Paris
- A Fantastic Itinerary To See Paris In 4 Days
- Paris In 3 Days: A Great Itinerary To Make The Most Of It
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Paris In A Day
- How To Get Versailles Tickets
- The Best Cities To Visit In France
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris