2 days in Paris are definitely not enough – with that amount of time, you can merely scratch the surface. Mind you, I don’t think a week in Paris is enough either! But alas, 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.
Quick Tips To Make The Most Of Paris In 2 Days
This 2-days 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 lesser known attractions too. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes!
HAVE A QUICK LUNCH – And opt for a full meal at dinner.
BOOK ALL THE ATTRACTIONS YOU WANT TO VISIT – Most of them require you to do so anyways.
Finally, continue reading to discover the best places to visit in Paris in 2 days!
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 honestly take your breath away. It will take you around one hour to explore all of it.
Sainte Chapelle is open every day from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. It is closed on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. Admission is €11.50 for adults. You must book your visit in advance. You can do that here.
Palais-Royal is so close to the Louvre that I figured that I figured you can 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.
Palais-Royal usually opens at 7:00 or 7:30 am and closes late. Visiting is free.
Of all the museums in Paris, this is one you can’t skip.
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.
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 Louvre is open every day but Tuesdays from 9:00 am to at 6:00 pm. The museum is closed on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Make sure to read my post How To Get Tickets To The Louvre.
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 one end of the Champs-Elysées. If you are running on time, consider going up for stunning views of the city (especially La Defense).
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. You can get tickets here.
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.
River Seine Cruise
A cruise along the Seine is a great chance to catch incredible views of Paris – and depending on the time you do it, you will be getting the sunset views. You will also pass by Notre-Dame – currently under restoration after the fire of April 2019.
Cruises depart from and return to the Eiffel Tower and last one hour, so this activity fits perfectly in your itinerary. You can book your cruise here.
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. It’s probably the most iconic attraction in town, and a place you can’t skip.
The tower was built in 1889 for the World Expo. It is 324 meters (1063 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).
Until August 29, 2021, the Eiffel Tower will be open daily from 9:30 am to 11:45 pm. The ticket office closes at 10:30 pm. Stairs are open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Advanced bookings are required. Get your ticket here and factor in about 2 hours for your visit.
Make sure to read my full guide on visiting the Eiffel Tower.
Map of day two
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. You can easily follow this itinerary in reverse and start in Montmartre.
Montparnasse is one of the nicest neighborhood in the French capital. The highlight there is Montparnasse Tower – in and of itself a rather ugly building, but from where you can enjoy impressive views of the Eiffel Tower. Built in the early 1970s, with its 210 meters (689 feet), this is Paris’ second highest building.
The observation deck of Montparnasse Tower is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 11:00 am to 11:30 pm (last climb at 11:00 pm) and Sunday to Tuesday from 11:00 am to 10:30 pm (last climb at 10:00 pm). Get tickets to the roof terrace in advance here.
If you decide to visit two museums during your 2 days in Paris, the first one should 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 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. You can do it here. Factor in a minimum of two hours for your visit.
Make sure to read my guide to visiting Musée d’Orsay.
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.
This is one most charming areas of Paris. 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.
Practical Tips To Enjoy Your 2 Days In Paris
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 Pass for 2 days in Paris
A Paris Pass may be a convenient idea as it includes skip the line tickets to many attractions, as well as transportation (make sure to double check though). Keep in mind the Eiffel Tower is not usually included, and you’ll have to book the many attractions separately.
You can get your Paris Pass here.
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.
Make sure to read my post How To Get From Charles De Gaulle Airport CDG To Paris.
How to move around Paris
The metro is the most convenient and budget friendly way to move around Paris 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.
Other useful tips
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
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.
Mind the scams
Scams in Paris are common. Make sure to familiarize yourself with them – this post will tell you which ones to look for, and how to avoid them.
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