You don’t nearly get to see all of Paris in 3 days. Should you bother going if you have so little time? You most certainly should! The French capital is such a wonderful city that I’d go just to be infused in its fabulous atmosphere, even if only for a few hours.
Let me tell you: 3 days in Paris are not sufficient to explore all that the city has to offer. But if that is all you have, you may as well try to make the most of it. You will have enough time to visit only the most iconic attractions – and definitely not all of them.
Sure enough, you have to plan things carefully and stick to an itinerary. You will also have to get skip the line tickets to the various attractions, and pick a time for your visit – or else, you may end up stuck in line at the ticket counter or (worse) end up with no ticket at all.
I appreciate that planning may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But guess what – I am a massive fan of it. That’s why I thought of drafting an easy to follow itinerary that will allow you to see a lot of Paris in 3 days. You will only have to buy your flights, book your hotel, and get tickets to attractions beforehand (I will let you know which).
Continue reading do find out what to see and do if you are visiting Paris in 3 days, and get all the help needed to plan your trip.
How To Use This Paris In 3 Days Itinerary
Before showing you all the things to do and see in this Paris in 3 days itinerary, let me point out once again that 3 days are really not enough to properly see Paris. You must get skip the line, timed entrance tickets to all the tourist attractions.
The issue is that Paris is crowded with tourists. It was the second most visited city in the world in 2019, second only to Bangkok. Attractions such as the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower gets sold out weeks in advance. You can’t just show up and hope to go in swiftly – not when you only have 3 days in Paris and no time to waste.
But don’t worry. I will explain the practical facts about the various attractions mentioned here and where to get tickets in advance.
This itinerary is based on the assumption that you have at least 3 full days in Paris – that is, 3 full days and 4 nights. You can still do it if you have 3 nights, provided your flight gets in very early in the morning or leaves very late in the evening.
TIP: You may be jet lagged after a long haul flight. Take it easy! Explore the area where you are staying, maybe do a guided food tour.
TIP: Head out as early as possible in the morning.
GOOD TO KNOW: Though I have crafted this itinerary so that you visit attractions that are close to each other, on some occasions you will have to use the subway to get to your next stop. Be prepared – buy a carnet of tickets in advance!
PRO TIP: If one of your 3 days in Paris is a Wednesday or Friday, go the Louvre on one of those days and in the evening, when it is less crowded. That way, you can follow the itinerary in reserve and have more time to explore the other attractions
TIP: Exploring can be tiring! Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
TIP: You won’t have much time for a sit down meal at lunch. Opt for a good sandwich on the go – there are many excellent bakeries in Paris.
Follow my tips and I promise you will enjoy your visit of Paris in 3 days.
A Day By Day Itinerary To Visit Paris In 3 Days
Day 1: Palais-Royale, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and Seine River Cruise
Your first of your Paris in 3 days itinerary will take you to some of the most important landmarks in town. It will be a packed day so brace yourself for it. You will be going to Palais Royale; the Louvre; head to Arc de Triomphe; get impressive views of the Eiffel Tower and from it; 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. I recommend taking the subway to get from the Louvre to Arc de Triomphe and, depending on how good your are on timing, from there to the Trocadero. You will be boarding your Seine river cruise directly from the Eiffel Tower.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The opening times of Palais-Royal vary with the season but they roughly are from 7:30 am (7:00 between June and August) till late. There is no entry fee.
Your very first stop in your Paris in 3 days itinerary is the Palais-Royal. It opens so early that it won’t take precious time from other attractions, and it is really close to the Louvre. This palace was once the home of Cardinal Richelieu, who lived there until his death in 1642.
It then became property of Philippe II Duke of Orléans, who held the throne for Louis XV when he became king aged 5 in 1715. It now houses the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture.
You can pop in to take photos – I am sure you will enjoy the art installation of striped columns of various sizes.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Louvre is open every day but Tuesdays from 9:00 am to at 6:00 pm, except on Wednesdays and Fridays when it closes at 9:45 pm. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
There are many great museums in Paris, but you really have to narrow down the ones you visit when you try to see Paris in 3 days. If you want my opinion, I think the Louvre is unmissable.
Once a fortress, the Louvre became an art gallery in the 1700s and now houses some of the finest paintings and sculptures in the world, including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
Sorry to break the news, but the Louvre is very crowded and it often gets sold out. You have to get your tickets in advance. It’s actually best to go on a guided tour, especially if you don’t have much time. Guides are usually knowledgeable the art on display and they know their way around the building so that they can keep you away from the worst crowds.
The following are the best skip the line ticket options and guided tours for the Louvre:
- Ultimate Louvre skip the line guided tour – of all the tours, this Get Your Guide Originals is my favorite: great value for money, incredibly well prepared guides who know their way around the museum and the art exhibit.
- Louvre Museum timed entrance ticket – just the basic, for the no frills travelers.
- Louvre Museum skip the line
- Louvre Museum e-ticket
- Louvre Highlights Tour: Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo & Winged Victory – a valuable tour that has a specific focus on these 3 pieces.
- Closing Time At The Louvre: The Mona Lisa At Her Most Peaceful – a late evening option.
GOOD TO KNOW: It would normally take a full day to visit the Louvre but since you have just 3 days in Paris, plan to spend around 4 hours there.
SMART TIP: If are in Paris on a Wednesday or Friday, you may want to walk 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 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 visit Paris in 3 days, you will have enough time to see the Arc de Triomphe, and even go up. The views from the terrace are lovely – you get to see La Défense, the modern side of Paris.
The Arc is located on Place de l’Etoile, at one end of the Champs-Elysées. It was built to celebrate war victories and to pay respect to the many people who died during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.
The Trocadéro is right on the other side of the river from the Tour Eiffel and from there you can get stunning views of the tower.
GOOD TO KNOW: The best views of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero are at sunrise.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Eiffel Tower is open every day from 9:00 or 9:30 am to 6:30 pm (for stair users) or 00:45 am (for lift users). Double check the opening times before going as they vary with seasons.
The Eiffel Tower is the most famous landmark in Paris. Whether you are visiting Paris in 3 days or more, you have to go!
The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 for the World Expo, it measures 324 meters and it used to be the tallest building in France. It now is holds the highest man made observation deck in Europe, located at 276 meters.
WARNING: Whether you take the stairs or the elevator, the lines to visit the Eiffel Tower are long. You need to buy 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 moment you get there till the moment 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. Tickets to the summit must be purchased separately on the premises.
- Eiffel Tower skip the line ticket with summit access – my favorite option as it included the summit, where you will see Eiffel secret apartment.
- Eiffel Tower summit guided visit
- Eiffel Tower guided tour
River Seine Cruise
One of the best things to do in Paris in 3 days is a cruise along the Seine. The views during the cruise are magnificent – you will see Notre-Dame (currently under restoration work and not accessible), the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Pont Alexandre and the Eiffel Tower in all its glory. The sunset or evening cruises provide the best views.
You can have a dinner cruise or a guided one, and even a plain hop on hop off.
GOOD TO KNOW: Cruises usually depart from and return to the Eiffel Tower, so it makes sense to leave it as the last step in your first day itinerary.
This is a selection of good cruises:
Day 2: Montparnasse Tower, Musee d’Orsay, Montmartre
Day 2 of your Paris in 3 days itinerary will take you across town and you will need to use public transportation. You will start with the most incredible views in town, then head to a great museum and finish off in the most charming neighborhood in Paris.
Map of day one Paris itinerary
You can download a map of your day 2 itinerary here. You will need to use public transportation to get to Montparnasse Tower, from there to the Musee d’Orsay and eventually to Blanche, from where you can explore Montmartre.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The observation deck of Montparnasse Tower is open from 9:30 am to either 10:30 or 11:30 pm depending on the day of the week and the season.
It would be nice to explore Montparnasse neighborhood, but if you only have 3 days in Paris you won’t really have time for it. The good news is that you will have time to go up Montparnasse Tower. The building probably is the ugliest one in town, but the good news is that if you are inside you don’t get to see it!
Built in the early 1970s and currently Paris’ second highest building with its 210 meters, from there you will enjoy the best views of the Eiffel Tower.
TIP: Get tickets to the roof terrace in advance 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. It closes at 9:45 pm on Thursdays. It is closed on Mondays.
If you decide to visit two museums during your 3 days in Paris, one of them should be the Louvre, and the other has to be Musee d’Orsay. This is the best one for art lovers, as it has fantastic collection of impressionist art with a permanent exhibit of the works of Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh and many more.
The building is gorgeous too: it once was a train station (Gare D’Orsay, built for the universal expo) turned museum.
TIP: Make sure to check the website to find out if on the day of your visit there will be a special exhibit.
A guided or audio-guided tour of the museum may help you make the most of the exhibit. Either way, make sure to get a skip the line ticket – even though the entrance is not timed, it will help you save precious time.
These are the best guided tours and skip the line tickets for Musée d’Orsay:
- Musée d’Orsay reserved access 1-day admission ticket – the most budget friendly option. You can opt to get an audioguide once at the museum.
- Highlights of the Musée d’Orsay Tour: Meet the Impressionists –should you be looking for a guided tour, this is the best one around.
- 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.”
Unless you pay for a show, you can only really see the Moulin Rouge from the outside. As it is right by the subway exit, you will definitely bump into it and may as well take a photo. In the heart of Pigalle and close to Montmartre, this is the birthplace of the can-can dance.
If you visit just one church while in Paris, it has to be this. A Romano-Byzantine basilica, it’s located on top of a hill from where you can enjoy splendid views of the city. The church was built around 1875. Tours of Montmartre usually go there.
Even when visiting Paris in 3 days, you should go to Montmartre. This is one of the quaint areas of town. The overall bohemian feel, the lovely small buildings, the artists, the cafés and boutiques make it a special place to explore. The area became popular with artists in the 19th century. Back then Monet, Renoir, Modigliani and even Van Gogh lived in this part of town.
I recommend taking a guided tour of Montmartre to make the most of it. I took the Montmartre 2 hour walking tour and enjoyed the secret places that the guide showed me.
Day 3: Versailles
Some would say that if you only have 3 days in Paris you should skip Versailles. I dissent! This is just as much part of the city as many other places, and such an important part of French history took place there that you really can’t miss it.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The easiest and cheapest way to get from Paris to Versailles is by RER C. Make sure to get your return ticket from the train station in Paris. Versailles train station may get packed with people trying to get their tickets and you may end up stuck in line there.
The symbol of all the excesses of the French Monarchy, Versailles was a hunting lodge that was enlarged upon wishes of Louis XIV, who moved his court there in an attempt to control it. Not far from it you will find the Trianon estates. The large one is where Napoleon established his residence; whereas the small one was Marie Antoinette escape from the court.
I recommend a guided tour of Versailles to make the most of it.
These are some good guided tours of Versailles:
- Ultimate Versailles skip the line guided tour – this is the tour I took. It lasts around 2 hours, only going to the Palace after which you have free time to discover the rest at your own pace. Guides are very knowledgeable.
- Versailles palace and gardens full access ticket – a great tour with audioguide, perfect to explore on your own.
- Closing Time at Versailles: Small Group Versailles Tour After the Crowds with Gardens or Fountains Show – a fabulous guided tour that includes access to all the nicest places.
- Versailles palace all areas entrance (Passport)
- Versailles palace access all areas and fountain musical show
Make sure to read my post “Seven Smart Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line.”
If you make it back from Versailles relatively early, go for a walk around Les Marais, one of Paris nicest neighborhoods. There are some lovely restaurants, cafés and bars; beautiful boutiques, and most of all the atmosphere is relaxed and it still very much retains a local feel. You can even go on a food tour there.
Practical Tips To Make The Most Of Paris In 3 Days
Where to stay in Paris
If you plan to visit Paris in 3 days, you have to carefully pick the area where your hotel or apartment is located. You want a place that is close to the subway station and from where you can move around easily. I recommend staying in Les Marais as it is close to the Louvre and Notre-Dame, safe and with 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 they are lovely. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Hotel Montecristo has vintage looking rooms, a pool and even a restaurant. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Young and Happy Latin Quarter by Hiphophostels is a good place for backpackers, with plain but clean dorms. Breakfast is not included in the price. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
Using a Paris Pass to explore Paris in 3 days
You may want to get a Paris Pass to make the most of Paris in 3 days. It will include tickets to many attractions, with skip the line options, as well as transportation (make sure to double check though).
Paris Passes do not usually include the Eiffel Tower. The only one that does is Paris PassLib. It costs €139 for the 3-day option which is the one you would have to get. You can get it here.
GOOD TO KNOW: You will have to make separate reservations for all the attractions you intend to visit.
TIP: Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions and the inclusions of your Paris Pass.
When to visit Paris
Any time is a good time to visit Paris. However, if you are planning to visit Paris in 3 days I suggest going when days are a bit longer, between the late spring (May) and the fall (October).
How to get to Paris
Paris is very well connected to the rest of the world by either by plane or train.
Charles de Gaulle Airport is the main hub for Air France, which has good, convenient flights from many airports in the US and Europe. You can look for flights here.
The train is the fastest and cheapest option to get to the center of Paris from Charles de Gaulle.
How to move around Paris
If you are visiting Paris in 3 days, I recommend using public transportation – it works well. A one way ticket for metro and buses costs €1.90.
You may also want to consider using a 3-days hop-on hop-off bus pass to take you to the various attractions. You can get your ticket here.
Luggage storage in Paris
Luggage storage facilities are scattered all around Paris, usually close to train and bus stations. Storage starts at €5 per day. You must book it in advance. BagBnB is a good place to look.
Other useful tips
Get a data plan for your smartphone
Make sure your smartphone plan covers you for trips outside of your country. You need to have data so you can access apps such as Google Maps.
Get a guide book
Take a good guide book with you. Good guide books include maps, restaurant and hotel recommendations. These are some good ones:
Mind the scams
Scams and touts are common in Paris. Watch out for things such as: the friendship bracelet, the golden ring, the cup and ball. Don’t trust people who approach you claiming to be raising funds for disadvantaged categories such as the deaf. Mind pickpockets on the bus or the metro.
Get a good travel insurance
Further readings about Paris
Make sure to read my other posts that will provide insights about the many attractions of Paris:
- 33 Incredible Places To Visit In Paris
- A Wonderful Itinerary For 5 Days In Paris
- A Fantastic Itinerary To See Paris In 4 Days
- A Guide To The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France
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