2 days in Paris are definitely not enough to see it all. But even if that is all you have, I’d recommend going – if anything, to take in the incredible vibe.
Though with 2 days in Paris you barely get to scratch the surface, you can still enjoy the city and visit its most iconic attractions – just a selection of them.
My recommendation if you have such limited time is to plan things carefully and stick to an itinerary that you establish beforehand. You will also have to get skip the line tickets to the attractions you want to visit, and select a time for your visit. Fail to do so, and you may end up with no ticket and no chance to visit at all.
If you aren’t a fan of planning, you can count on me for an easy to follow itinerary that will help you make the most of Paris in 2 days. Go ahead and buy your flights, book your accommodation, and get tickets to the places you want to visit – that’s all you have to do.
Continue reading do discover how to make the most of your 2 days in Paris.
How To Use This 2 Days In Paris Itinerary
Before I go on to explain what you can see and do with 2 days in Paris, let me stress again that 2 days are really not enough to see the capital of France. For a better chance of seeing as much as possible, you must get skip the line, timed entrance tickets to the tourist attractions you intend to visit.
Paris is crowded with tourists. In 2019 – for the first time in 10 years – Paris had more visitors than London: a whopping 19.1 million. It was second only to Bangkok. Attractions such as the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower are sold out weeks in advance. Fail to buy your tickets online and you may be unable to visit.
But don’t despair. Continue reading because I will share all the practical information about the places you may want to visit, and point you towards the best sites where you can get skip the line tickets.
This 2-days itinerary is based on the assumption that you have at least 2 full days in Paris – meaning 2 full days and 3 nights. You can still try it out if you have 2 nights, provided your flight or train to Paris gets in very early in the morning, or that you fly out very late in the evening on our way out.
TIP: Jet lag will hit you after a long haul flight. Make sure to rest, go to bed early and drink lots of water.
If you are feeling particularly energetic, opt for a food tour on the day of your arrival in Paris. This private food tour is a good option as it lets you pick the starting time. You can book it here.
TIP: Make it a point to leave as early as possible from your hotel every morning.
GOOD TO KNOW: I have created an itinerary that will allow you to visit attractions close to one another on the same day, but on occasions you will have to make use of the subway. Buy a few tickets in advance for that.
PRO TIP: If one of your 2 days in Paris is a Wednesday or Friday, plan your visit to the Louvre for that day as it stays open till late.
TIP: Always wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
TIP: Eat your lunch on the go and only sit down for a meal at dinner.
Follow my guidance and I promise you have a blast during your 2 days in Paris.
A Day By Day Itinerary For 2 Days In Paris
Day 1: Sainte-Chapelle, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and Seine River Cruise
The first of your 2 days in Paris will take you to some of the most famous attractions. It will be a packed day – you will need coffee or energy bars (or croissants, since you are in Paris) to keep you going. You will be going to Sainte Chapelle; the Louvre; Arc de Triomphe; the Eiffel Tower; and finish with a panoramic cruise along the Seine.
Map of day one Paris itinerary
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.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Sainte Chapelle is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Between 1 April and 30 September it remains open until 7:00 pm. It is closed on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. Entry is €11.50 for adults.
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 honestly take your breath away. It will take you around one hour to explore all of it.
I recommend getting there a bit before opening time and to get a skip the line ticket in advance. This option costs €11.50 – which is the price of the official ticket. So it is very convenient. You can book it here.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Palais-Royal usually opens at 7:00 or 7:30 am and closes late. There is no entry fee.
Chances are you won’t have time to visit Palais-Royal if you only have 2 days in Paris, but it is so close to the Louvre that I figured that, in case you are running well on time and have a few moments before your Louvre tour starts, you may as well pop in for some photos of the fun striped columns art installation.
This palace 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.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Louvre is open every day except Tuesdays from 9:00 am to at 6:00 pm. On Wednesdays and Fridays it closes at 9:45 pm. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Paris is packed with incredible museums, but if you only have 2 days in Paris, the Louvre is the one you should visit.
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 it is a gorgeous building to explore in and of itself, with fine ceilings, large rooms, marble floors and a grand exterior. I find the Pyramid is an incredible, eclectic addition to it.
The bad news is that the Louvre is very crowded and tickets often get sold out. You have to get them in advance. I also think it is actually better to go on a guided tour, especially if you are time constrained. Guides will know where to take you for the best art and the masterpieces and will know how to dodge the crowds.
TIP: By the time you get to the Louvre from Sainte Chapelle it will be around 10:30 am, so 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.
The following are the best skip the line ticket options and guided tours for the Louvre:
- Ultimate Louvre skip the line guided tour – this Get Your Guide Originals is the one I did and loved it.
- Louvre Museum skip the line
- Louvre Museum e-ticket
- Louvre Highlights Tour: Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo & Winged Victory – a valuable tour with a strong focus on these 3 pieces.
- Closing Time At The Louvre: The Mona Lisa At Her Most Peaceful – a late evening option.
GOOD TO KNOW: The Louvre is so vast that it can take days to explore it, but since you have just 2 days in Paris, plan to spend no more than 4 hours there.
SMART TIP: If you are in Paris on a Wednesday or Friday, follow this itinerary in reverse and leave the Louvre as your last stop, since it stays open until 9:45 pm.
Make sure to read my post “Nine Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Louvre And Skip The Line.”
Arc de Triomphe
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Arc de Triomphe is open daily from 10:00 am to 10:30 or 11:00 pm depending on the season. It is closed on 1 January, 1 May, 8 May (morning), 14 July, 11 November (morning) and 25 December.
If you visit Paris in 2 days, you can at least pass by the Arc de Triomphe – and perhaps you even have enough time to go up. The views from the terrace are stunning.
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 one end of the Champs-Elysées.
The Trocadéro is right on the other side of the Seine from the Tour Eiffel, on the way from the Arc de Triomphe to the tower. It’s one of the best places in town to get incredible views of the Eiffel Tower.
GOOD TO KNOW: Following this itinerary in reverse? Get started at Trocadero at sunrise for stunning, unobstructed views.
River Seine Cruise
With 2 days in Paris, a cruise along the Seine is a great chance to catch incredible views – and depending on the time you do it, you will be getting the sunset views. You will also pass by Notre-Dame – which I have not included in this itinerary because currently under restoration after the fire of April 2019.
GOOD TO KNOW: Cruises depart from and return to the Eiffel Tower and last one hour, so this activity fits perfectly in your itinerary.
This is a selection of good cruises:
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Eiffel Tower is open daily from 9:00 or 9:30 am to 6:30 pm (for stair users) or 00:45 am (for lift users). Opening times vary with season so make sure to double check before you go.
GOOD TO KNOW: I have opted to leave this as the last attraction of the day because it is open until very late – so that you have more time to explore the rest of the city. In case you are visiting Paris on a Wednesday or a Friday, you can opt to follow this itinerary the other way around and start with an early visit to the Eiffel Tower.
This is the most iconic place to visit in Paris. Whether you are visiting Paris in 2 days or more, you have to go!
The tower was built in 1889 for the World Expo. It is 324 meters 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.
WARNING: The lines to visit the Eiffel Tower are long whether you decide to use the stairs or the elevator. Get tickets in advance.
Make sure to read my full guide on visiting the Eiffel Tower.
TIP: Factor in around 2 hours for your visit, from the time you arrive to the time you leave.
These are the best skip the line tickets and tours of the Eiffel Tower:
- Eiffel Tower second floor priority access – a good ticket to access the second floor. Purchase your tickets to the summit separately on the premises.
- Eiffel Tower skip the line ticket with summit access – my favorite option as it the most inclusive one. You even get to see Eiffel secret apartment.
- Eiffel Tower summit guided visit
- Eiffel Tower guided tour
Day 2: Montparnasse Tower, Musee d’Orsay, Montmartre
Day 2 of your Paris in 2 days itinerary will take you all over the city, for incredible views and experiences, and you will need to use public transportation. You will visit two of the most lovely neighborhoods in Paris.
GOOD TO KNOW: You can easily follow this itinerary in reverse and start in Montmartre.
Map of day two Paris itinerary
Download a map of your day 2 itinerary here. Use public transportation to get to Montparnasse Tower, from there to the Musee d’Orsay and finally to Blanche, from where you can explore Montmartre.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The observation deck of Montparnasse Tower is open every day from 9:30 am to either 10:30 or 11:30 pm. Double check the opening and closing time for the day of your visit.
Montparnasse is one of the nicest neighborhood in the French capital, but with only 2 days in Paris you won’t really have time to explore it. However, you should at least go up Montparnasse Tower. The building is thought to be one of the ugliest in Paris, but the good news is that once you are in you only take in the amazing views of the Eiffel Tower.
Built in the early 1970s, Montparnasse Tower is Paris’ second highest building with its 210 meters.
TIP: Get tickets to the roof terrace before your visit to save some time. You can get them here.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. On Thursdays it closes at 9:45 pm. It is closed on Mondays.
If you decide to visit two museums during your 2 days in Paris, the first one has to be the Louvre, but the second one definitely has to be Musee d’Orsay, which has fantastic collection of impressionist art. The permanent exhibit includes the works of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh 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).
The museum is quite big and with a lot to see. It will take you at least two hours – and that’s if you go fast. A guided or audio-guided tour of the museum may help you make the most of all the art on display.
TIP: Make sure to get a skip the line ticket – even though the entrance is not timed, at least you won’t have to wait at the ticket counter.
These are the best guided tours and skip the line ticket options for Musée d’Orsay:
- Musée d’Orsay reserved access 1-day admission ticket – this is most budget friendly option. If you want, you can get an audioguide once at the museum for €5.
- Highlights of the Musée d’Orsay Tour: Meet the Impressionists – this is the best guided tour option.
- Musée d’Orsay dedicated entrance
- Orsay Museum skip the line
Make sure to read my post “Eight Incredibly Smart Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines.”
You can only see the Moulin Rouge from outside, unless you decide to attend a show. Yet, it is so conveniently located by the subway exit that you should at least pop by to take a photo. This is the birthplace of the can-can dance and the most iconic landmark in the area of Pigalle.
This Romano-Byzantine basilica is located on the top of a hill from where the views of the city are absolutely breathtaking. The church was built around 1875. If you take a tour of Montmartre, this will be one of the stops.
Even when visiting Paris in 2 days, Montmartre is a must. This is one most charming parts of town. You will get the impression of a 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.
A guided tour of Montmartre is a good idea to make the most of it. I took the Montmartre 2 hour walking tour and found the guide to be extremely knowledgeable.
Practical Tips To Enjoy Your 2 Days In Paris
Where to stay in Paris
If you plan to spend 2 days in Paris, make sure to pick a hotel or apartment that is nicely located close to the subway station and from where you can move across town easily. I am a fan of Les Marais as it is close to the Louvre and Notre-Dame, it is very safe and there are good restaurants and cafés.
You may want to look into one of these places:
- La Chambre du Marais is close to Pompidou center. Rooms aren’t big but it is an overall nice place. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Hotel Montecristo has vintage looking rooms, a pool and even a restaurant so you don’t have to go out for dinner if you are too tired. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Young and Happy Latin Quarter by Hiphophostels is perfect for backpackers, with plain but clean dorms. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
Using a Paris Pass for 2 days in Paris
A Paris Pass may be a convenient idea. It will include skip the line tickets to many attractions, as well as transportation (make sure to double check though).
Keep in mind that Paris Passes do not usually include the Eiffel Tower. The only one that does is Paris PassLib. It costs €119 for the 2-day option. You can get it here.
GOOD TO KNOW: You need to make separate reservations for all the attractions you intend to visit with your Paris Pass.
When to visit Paris
Any time is a good time to visit Paris. The spring and early fall months are the best time – a good compromise in terms of the amount of daylight and crowds.
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. You can search for flights here.
The train is the fastest and cheapest option to travel to the center of Paris from Charles de Gaulle.
Make sure to read my post How To Get From Charles De Gaulle Airport CDG To Paris.
How to move around Paris
If you are visiting Paris in 2 days, I recommend using public transportation – the subway works really well. A bus or metro ticket costs €1.90.
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.
Luggage storage in Paris
You will find luggage storage facilities all around Paris, usually not far from 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.
Other useful tips
Get a data plan for your smartphone
Make sure your smartphone is unlocked and that you can use it outside of your home country. You need data so you can access apps such as Google Maps that will help you move around town more efficiently.
Get a guide book
Bring a good guide book along – one that includes maps, restaurant and hotel recommendations. These are some good ones:
Mind the scams
Scams and touts are as common in Paris as in any other major tourist destination. These are the most common scams: the friendship bracelet, the golden ring, the cup and ball. Mind pickpockets on the bus or the metro.
I will be writing a post about the most common scams in Paris soon.
Get a good travel insurance
Further readings about Paris
Make sure to read my other posts about Paris and its attractions:
- 33 Incredible Places To Visit In Paris
- The Best Museums In Paris
- A Week In Paris Itinerary: What To See And Do
- 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
- Seven Smart Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line
- A Guide To The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- 27 Cool Things To Do In Montmartre, Paris
- How To Avoid The Most Common Paris Scams
- Where To Get The Most Impressive Views Of Paris