5 days in Paris are just about enough to get a decent feel for the city. I’d honestly recommend staying longer – the French capital is such an incredible place that you will inevitably fall in love with it and wish you could stay longer anyways. Yet, if that is all you have, you can rest assured you will be able to cover the main attractions and even wander around aimlessly at times.
You can see a lot in Paris in 5 days: visit the most popular attractions and even those that people at times skip – for lack of time, or because they don’t even know about their existence.
Be advised though: you really can’t improvise. Paris is the kind of place that requires some planning. There are so many tourists that, unless you have a passion for waiting in line, you really should buy tickets to the attractions you intend to visit in advance.
If you aren’t a fan of planning, count on me! I am here to draft a fantastic itinerary that will help you make the most of Paris. You will only have to book your flights, your rooms and tickets for those attractions that require advanced reservations (don’t worry, I will point out which ones).
Continue reading this post to discover what you can see and do if you have 5 days in Paris, and get tips on how to skip the lines at the most popular attractions, save a bit of money, and overall enjoy the Ville Lumiere.
Some Background Information About This 5 Days In Paris Itinerary
Before I show you my day by day itinerary for you to see Paris in 5 days, let me point out that even if you feel you have plenty of time to explore the city, you still have to get skip the line, timed entrance tickets to the most popular tourist attractions.
The city is so crowded that it allows for little improvisation. Some attractions get sold out weeks in advance and if you don’t book, you may end up either stuck in the line at the ticket counter, or – in the worst case scenario – entirely unable to visit.
The good news is that you can count on me to let you know whenever you have to buy tickets in advance. Follow my tips and you will definitely have a fantastic time during your 5 days in Paris.
For the purpose of this itinerary, I will assume you have at least 5 full days in Paris – which means you are spending 6 nights there, or you get in very early in the morning on your first day, or fly out very late in the evening on your last day.
Mind you – I have traveled enough to know that after a long haul flight you won’t really have energy to go out exploring. Chances are that it will take you some to 2 hours to clear customs, pick up your luggage and make your way to the hotel. You will then want to freshen up, check your whereabouts, eat something and have an early night.
Take it easy the day you arrive in Paris. Explore the neighborhood where you are staying, maybe do a guided food tour in the evening, after you have rested a bit. This private food tour is a good option and you can decide the time it starts. You can book it here. This other one is in Les Marais and starts at 2:00 pm.
Make sure to start your explorations early every day. This way you can hopefully avoid the larger crowds.
This itinerary is truly packed, but it is drafted so that you will visit attractions that are close to each other on the same day, so that you can minimize the time spent commuting and maximize your time at each attraction.
On most days, you can follow the itinerary in reverse. Make sure to check the closing time of the attractions to decide which your starting point should be!
Follow this itinerary in whichever order you prefer (in other words, mix the days as you most like). If you happen to be in Paris on a Wednesday or Friday, go to the Louvre in the evening, when it closes later and it is less crowded. That way, you’ll have more time to explore the rest of the places!
Likewise, I recommend going up the Eiffel Tower at night. This way, you will have longer hours to enjoy the other attractions at a slower pace.
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes!
Have lunch on the go or opt for a quick bite! Paris is packed with bakeries where you can get a sandwich or a quick lunch. Bread is so good that you will want to eat at bakeries!
These are the best restaurants in Paris.
Continue reading to discover my wonderful itinerary for 5 days in Paris.
A Day By Day Itinerary To Spend 5 Days In Paris
Day 1: Musee d’Orsay, Luxembourg Gardens, Montparnasse Tower and Catacombs
Day 1 of your 5 days in Paris itinerary will be packed – go to bed early the night before, and plan to set out no later than 8:30 am for your first visit. You will visit Musee d’Orsay; head to Shakespeare and Company from where you will end up at the Pantheon; walk through Luxembourg Gardens; get the views from Montparnasse Tower and finish off at the Catacombs.
Map of day one Paris itinerary
You can download a map of your day 1 itinerary here. You will see that it is very easy to follow. You only really need to use public transportation to get to your starting point at Musee d’Orsay and to move from there to Shakespeare and Company (it’s a 2 km walk, by the way), and to get back to your hotel at the end of the day.
If you happen to follow this itinerary on a Thursday, I actually recommend following it in reverse. Indeed, you can go at a slightly more relaxed pace as the Musee d’Orsay closes at 9:45 pm on Thursdays.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Musee d’Orsay opens at 9:30 am every day and closes at 6:00 pm, except on Thurdsays when it closes at 9:45 pm. It is closed on Mondays.
If you have 5 days in Paris, you can opt to visit two museums. Musee d’Orsay is a rather obvious choice for art lovers, as it has an incredible collection of impressionist art with works of artists such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh and many more. It is worth visiting even just for the chance to admire the building, which once was a train station (Gare D’Orsay, built for the universal expo) later on renovated to house the museum.
The museum often houses special exhibits – there was one about Degas when I visited. Make sure to check the website to see if there is one when you visit, and if there is, factor in a little extra time there.
I recommend taking a guided tour of the museum – even if only with an audioguide. Opt to get a skip the line ticket – even though the entrance is not timed, it’s the best way to avoid any line that may form.
Try to enter the museum as soon as it opens and factor in at least 2 hours for the visit.
These are the best guided tours and skip the line tickets for Musée d’Orsay:
Shakespeare and Company
On your way to the Pantheon, you can pass by Shakespeare and Company. This is a quaint, independent anglophone bookstore in the heart of the Latin Quarter. It first opened in 1951 and since then became a meeting point for English speaking (but not only) writers and readers that happen to be in Paris. The building where it is located was originally a monastery (dating from the 17th century).
You can browse through books, appreciate the gorgeous buildings, attend one of the many events and workshops (though this is a bit hard if you only have 5 days in Paris) and – provided she is around and available – even pet the resident cat.
Located on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Pantheon is the burial ground of some of France’s most notable people such as Rousseau, Voltaire, Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Émile Zola. It was built between 1758 and 1790. It was originally a church, but during the Revolution it was turned into a mausoleum.
With 5 days in Paris, you will have enough time to explore a couple of parks. Luxembourg Gardens is one of the nicest ones, and it’s right on the way from the Pantheon to Montparnasse Tower.
The park was built upon orders of Maria de’ Medici at the beginning of the 17th century. The palace is currently the seat of the French Senate. If you happen to visit during the summer time, you will find it a great place to relax for a bit as you can easily find shade under the many trees.
Highlights of the park include the statues of 20 French queens and Medici’s fountain.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The tower is open from 11:00 am to either 10:30 or 11:30 depending on the day of the week and the season.
You won’t really have much time to explore Montparnasse neighborhood if you only have 5 days in Paris, but you should definitely go up Montparnasse Tower, for some incredible views. The tower was built in the early 1970s and currently is Paris’ second highest building with its 210 meters. It’s one of the best places in town to get views of the Eiffel Tower.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Catacombs are open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:45 am to 8:30 pm. They are closed on Mondays and on January 1, May 1 and December 25.
If you are seeing Paris in 5 days, you definitely have time to visit the Catacombs. This is a spooky place, located where once was a limestone mine that started being filled with bodies at the end of the 18th century, when local cemeteries couldn’t accommodate more bodies.
The Catacombs are excavated at 20 meters below street level, and there isn’t much variation in the temperature throughout the year.
Make sure to book the latest tour of the Catacombs, starting at around 5:30 pm. This way, you have plenty of time to enjoy other attractions. If you are following this itinerary in reverse order, go as early as 10:00 am. You can book your visit here.
Day 2: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées and Tuileries Garden
Something tells me that this day has the potential of being your favorite out of the 5 days in Paris you will be spending. You will start with a bang at the Eiffel Tower, then get all the possible views of it from the Champ de Mars and the Trocadero. From there, you will continue to the Arc de Triomphe and then walk along the Champs-Elysées all the way to Place de la Concorde and the lovely Tuileries Garden.
Map of day two Paris itinerary
To download the map of your day 2 itinerary, click here. It’s an easy to follow itinerary. You will start at the Eiffel Tower and then walk your way in the direction of the Louvre.
If you are keen on getting sunset or evening views of the Eiffel Tower and from the Eiffel Tower, you can walk this itinerary the other way around. In this case, you need to get all the way to the Louvre and head to the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel which will be your starting point.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Eiffel Tower is open every day. Until August 29, 2021, it 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.
Say you decide to pay to visit just one attraction during your 5 days in Paris – then there is no doubt: you have to go to the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic place in Paris. Built in 1889 for the World Expo, the tower measures 324 meters and until 2004 it was the tallest building in France. It still retains the record for the highest man made observation deck in Europe, at 276 meters.
The lines to climb the Eiffel Tower are long. You simply can’t show up at the ticket counter and hope you can go up swiftly. Make sure to get tickets in advance.
Get the earliest possible access to climb the Eiffel Tower and factor in around 2 hours for your visit, from the moment you get there to the time you actually get off.
These are the best tickets and tours of the Eiffel Tower:
- Eiffel Tower evening audio guided tour
- Eiffel Tower second floor priority access
- Eiffel Tower skip the line ticket with summit access
- Eiffel Tower summit guided visit
Champ de Mars
Champ de Mars park was first opened in 1780, next to the École Militaire. Tourists and locals both love it and head there en masse at weekends or on special occasions – it’s a perfect place for picnics and it has incredible views of the Eiffel Tower. And it’s free!
In case you are wondering, you got it: today is all about the views. After admiring the Eiffel Tower from Champ de Mars, you can head to Trocadéro for even better views.
If you can push yourself out of bed, go to the Trocadero for sunrise. There is almost nobody around, you will get incredible photos with nobody in the way!
Arc de Triomphe
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Arc de Triomphe is open every day 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 have 5 days in Paris, not only you can walk by the Arc de Triomphe, on Place de l’Etoile at one end of the Champs-Elysées, but you can also go up. The arch was erected to celebrate war victories and to pay respect to the many that died during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. It’s an incredible vantage point to get a different perspective of town – I love the views of la Défense, the modern side of Paris, from there.
The Champs-Elysées run all the way from the Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde. It’s a massive boulevard lined with nice boutiques, luxury stores, restaurants and cafés, as well as movie theaters. It’s where the Lido, one of the most famous cabaret shows in Paris, is located.
Place de la Concorde
One of the squares you will come across during your 5 days in Paris is Place de la Concorde. Paris’ largest square is located between the Champs-Elysées and the Tuileries Garden. It was built in 1772 – back then it has the name Place Louis XV. During the time of the Revolution it was called Place de la Révolution. It’s the square where executions during the Revolution took place, including those of King Louis XVI and his wife Queen Marie Antoinette.
Located in the square you will see a fountain that dates back to the reign of Louis-Philippe and an obelisk taken from the entrance of Luxor Temple in Egypt.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The park is open every day from 7:00 or 7:30 am to 7:30, 9:00 or 11:00 pm depending on the time of year.
At the end of the Champs-Elysées and right after Place de la Concorde you will find the lovely Tuileries Garden – probably the most famous park in Paris. The garden was landscaped by Vaux-le-Vicomte – the same who designed the gardens of Versailles. This should give you an idea of how gorgeous this park can be.
If you walk their length (and you should, really!) you will end up at the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, right outside the Louvre.
On the southwest corner of the garden you will find the Musée de l’Orangerie. You probably won’t have time to visit, since you are only spending 5 days in Paris, but note down that the last admission is at 5:15 pm so – depending on how the day develops, you may still manage. In case you want to give it a try, get your tickets in advance (this is a must!) here.
Day 3: Louvre, Palais-Royal, Pompidou, Notre-Dame, River Seine Cruise
The third of your 5 days in Paris will be mostly devoted to the Louvre, the world’s largest museum. It will take you hours to explore it – in fact, if you had more that just 5 days I’d recommend devoting a full day to it. After visiting, you can head to the nearby Palais-Royal, a fantastic photo-spot, and then make your way to the Pompidou. From there, you can head to Notre-Dame – you can only visit it from the outside. Nearby, you can embark your Seine river cruise.
Map of day three Paris itinerary
You can see the map of your day 3 itinerary here. Please take care to note that the map only includes Notre-Dame Cathedral, but not the Seine river cruise. Most cruises depart from the Eiffel Tower (in which case you’d have to head there to embark), but there also are a few that depart from the area of Notre Dame. Most of those departing from Notre Dame are hop on hop off services.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Louvre is open every day but Tuesday, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
The amount of art you’ll be able to see at the Louvre is unprecedented. This vast museum was originally a fortress that only later on, the 1700s became an art gallery. It is home to some of the finest paintings and sculptures in the world, including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory.
The Louvre can get incredibly crowded and it regularly gets sold out, so you absolutely have to purchase your tickets in advance. I also recommend going on a guided tour – at least an audioguide one – so that you can make sense of the many pieces you will be admiring, and of the building which is in itself an incredible work of art.
The Louvre opens at 9:00 am. Plan to be there as soon as it opens and to devote 4 hours to it as a minimum.
The following are the best skip the line tickets and guided tours for the Louvre:
You will love this place! Once the home of Cardinal Richelieu, who lived there until his death in 1642, the Palais became property of Philippe II Duke of Orléans, who was holding the throne as Louis XV became king aged 5 in 1715. Now the seat of the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture, it makes for an interesting visit thanks to the art installation of striped columns of different sizes.
It’s growing in popularity so if you have 5 days in Paris make sure to go, at least to take some photos before you continue your exploration.
This is one of the coolest buildings in town. With only 5 days in Paris, you probably won’t have time to actually go inside, but it’s worth going to just look at the incredible building which houses the National Museum of Modern Art – Europe’s largest modern art museum with works of the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky – and the lovely square right behind it.
If you actually want to go in, you can get your tickets here.
You can’t go inside Notre-Dame, as it was destroyed by a fire in April 2019. Yet, you should at least try to see it from the outside. It still is an impressive sight.
River Seine Cruise
The best way to finish off an amazing day of exploration is by going on a cruise along the Seine.
Keep in mind that most cruises depart from the Eiffel Tower, but look for those that depart from nearby Notre-Dame for ease.
The cruise is certainly a touristy thing to do, but the views from there are gorgeous. I recommend opting for a sunset or nighttime cruise for an even better experience. You can opt to have a dinner cruise (I don’t know how the food on board is, though), and have one that includes a guide which will explain the highlights of what you are going to see.
You can book your River Seine Cruise here.
Make sure to also read my post How To Pick The Best Seine River Cruise In Paris.
Day 4: Versailles
With 5 days in Paris, you have just about enough time for a trip out of town. Some may suggest going to Disneyland, but my recommendation is to actually head to Versailles.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The easiest and cheapest way to get from Paris to Versailles is by RER C. I recommend buying your return ticket from the train station in Paris as there will be long lines at Versailles station.
Versailles is known to be the symbol of all the excesses of the French Monarchy. Once a hunting lodge, it became a proper castle upon wishes of Louis XIV, who moved his court there.
Between the palace, the gardens, and the nearby Trianon estates, it is an incredible place to visit. I recommend joining a good guided tour to make sense of all you see.
These are some good guided tours of Versailles:
- Versailles Palace, Gardens and Estate tickets
- Best Versailles skip the line guided tour
- Versailles palace and gardens full access ticket
- Versailles palace access all areas and fountain musical show
Day 5: Montmartre and Père Lachaise
The last of your 5 days in Paris will be spend wandering around Montmartre, one of Paris most charming neighborhoods. You will start at the Moulin Rouge; head to the Sacre-Coeur; then explore Montmartre before heading to Père Lachaise cemetery. If you have time, at the end of the day, I recommend walking to Les Marais, one of the nicest neighborhoods in town.
Avoid Montmartre at weekends as it gets terribly crowded.
Map of day five Paris itinerary
You can see the map of your day 5 itinerary here. I recommend heading to the Moulin Rouge as early as possible – you can get there by metro and have to get off at Blanche. From there, head to the Sacre-Coeur before exploring the rest of Montmartre. Once you are done exploring this part of town, you can take the metro to Père Lachaise.
TIP: If you want to see a show at the Moulin Rouge, consider starting at the cemetery so that you get there in the evening.
Seeing a show at the Moulin Rouge may not be for all, but you should at least pop by this Parisian institution famous for its cabaret and for being the birthplace of the can-can dance.
If you want to see the show, you can get your tickets here.
The view from the Sacre-Coeur is stunning, so it is worth going just for that. The church, which is a Romano-Byzantine basilica, is located on top of Montmartre hill, where it started being built in 1875. From the church – especially from its dome – you’ll be able to enjoy one of the best views of Paris.
Montmartre is one of the most charming neighborhoods in Paris. Picture low houses, quaint looking cafés and shops and that bohemian look that will make you love it. The area became popular with artists in the 19th century, when the likes of Monet, Renoir, Modigliani and even Van Gogh moved there.
It’s a fairly easy area to explore, but if you want to get a good background opt for a guided tour. These are some of good ones:
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The cemetery opens every day between 8:00 and 8:30 am and closes between 5:30 and 6:00 pm depending on the season.
This is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world, opened in the early 1800s and where famous people such as singer Edith Piaf or Doors lead singer Jim Morrison are buried along the likes of Balzac and Oscar Wilde.
It’s a vast park that is free to enter but a guided tour may be a good idea to make the most of it. You can book your visit here.
BONUS: Les Marais
I love Les Marais. This is thought to be the nicest neighborhood in Paris. It’s an area packed with excellent restaurants, cafés and bars, quaint streets, artists’ ateliers, lovely independent boutiques and even the Museum of French History. If you have enough time to visit on your last day, definitely do!
Practical Tips For Your 5 Days In Paris
Where to stay in Paris
If you only have 5 days in Paris, picking a good location for your accommodation is crucial. You want a place that is close to the metro and from where you can move around easily. I personally love the Marais. It is walking distance from the Louvre and Notre-Dame, very friendly and safe and with many good small restaurants. And it has retained its local feel.
I will be writing a post about the best areas to stay in Paris, with the best hotels. Meantime, this is a selection of the best places to stay.
- La Chambre du Marais is near Pompidou center. Rooms aren’t big but they are cozy, beautiful and comfortable. Click here for the latest rates.
- Hotel Montecristo has plush, vintage style rooms. There is a pool and even a restaurant. Click here for the latest rates.
- Young and Happy Latin Quarter by Hiphophostels is a good option for travelers on a budget. Dorms are plain but well equipped. Breakfast is an add on. Click here for the latest rates.
Using a Paris Pass during your 5 days in Paris
You may consider getting a Paris Pass if you have 5 days in Paris. Passes usually include tickets to a variety of attractions, with skip the line options, and discount for others. Many of them also include public transportation.
Keep in mind that most Paris Passes do not include tickets to the Eiffel Tower. You can get a Paris Pass that includes Eiffel Tower tickets here.
Regardless of the pass you purchase, you will have to make reservations for each tourist attraction separately.
Make sure to read the terms and conditions and the inclusions very carefully.
If a Paris Pass doesn’t seem the best solution for you, consider joining a guided tour of Paris. For the best tours, click here.
When to visit Paris
Any time is a good time to visit Paris. However, if you only have to spare 5 days in Paris I recommend going between the late spring (May) and the fall (October) so that days are a bit longer and you have more day light to explore.
How to get to Paris
Paris is very well connected to the rest of Europe and the world. You can travel there by train or by plane.
You can catch flights to Charles de Gaulle Airport, which is the main one in Paris and an hub for Air France, which has good, convenient flights from many locations around the US and Europe.
To get to the center of Paris from Charles de Gaulle you can take the train, bus, shuttle van and taxi. The journey can take between 30 minutes (by train) to up to one and a half hour (depending on traffic).
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
Public transportation in Paris works really well. The best way to get around is the metro. A one way ticket costs €1.90.
Luggage storage in Paris
Should you need it, you can find luggage storage facilities all around Paris. The most convenient locations are usually the train stations such as Gare du Nord. Storage starts at €5 per day and you have to book in advance. BagBnB is a good place to look.
Other useful tips
Get a data plan for your smartphone
Make sure your smartphone plan allows you to use data overseas. This will come in handy to use apps such as Google Maps or to quickly research for information.
Get a guide book
Make sure to bring along a good guide book which includes maps, restaurant recommendations and lots of other information. These are some good ones:
Mind the scams
Scams in Paris are common – much like in any other city that is crowded with tourists. Do not fall for the friendship bracelet, the golden ring, the cup and ball scams and don’t trust anybody who claims to be raising funds for disadvantaged categories such as the deaf. Mind pickpockets too, especially when on the subway!
Get a good travel insurance
Make sure to read my other posts that will provide insights about the many attractions of Paris:
- 33 Incredible Places To Visit In Paris
- The Best Paris Travel Tips
- The Best Museums In Paris
- A Fantastic Itinerary To See Paris In 4 Days
- A Week In Paris Itinerary: What To See And Do
- Paris In 3 Days: A Great Itinerary To Make The Most Of It
- Nine Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Louvre And Skip The Line
- Seven Smart Ways To Get Eiffel Tower Tickets And Skip The Lines
- Eight Incredibly Smart Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines
- Seven Smart Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line
- A Guide To The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Paris In A Day
- 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
- How To See Paris Off The Beaten Path