Can you see Paris in a day? The French capital definitely deserves more than that. You’d probably need a month to just scratch the surface. But if for whatever reason one day in Paris is all you have, you should definitely try to make the most of it – you can plan to go again when you have a week to spend in Paris!
Needless to say, with just a day in Paris you can only focus on a handful of attractions – go to the most famous places to visit in Paris and little else. But if you follow a well crafted itinerary and a few Paris travel tips, you will still go back home with incredible memories of the Ville Lumière, and immediately start looking for flights to take you back there.
Are you unsure where to start planning? Don’t worry, I am here to help. I have created an easy-to-follow one-day-in-Paris itinerary, and a series of hacks to help you navigate the city.
Continue reading and start preparing!
Map Of Your Paris In A Day Itinerary
To see the map of your itinerary for a day in Paris you will be following, click here. I recommend using the subway to get from the Louvre to Arc de Triomphe and, depending on how the day is going, from there to the Trocadero and finally from Eiffel Tower to Montparnasse. You will embark your Seine river cruise right from the Eiffel Tower.
How To Use This Paris In A Day Itinerary
This itinerary is based on the assumption that you have at least one day in Paris – that is, 24 hours in Paris as a minimum, and 12 full hours for sightseeing. I have picked the very best of the city, selecting one of the best museums in Paris; and places where you can get incredible views of the city.
This itinerary is packed. You will have to head out no later than 7:30 am. You will find that if you make the sum of the cost of visiting all the attractions, it will turn out to be quite an expensive day too. Don’t feel obliged to see everything I recommend – mine are just suggestions.
You will need to book entries to all attractions in advance – in some cases, it is actually a requirement by the attraction. Don’t worry, I will tell you whenever this is necessary. I have left as last the attractions that are open late.
I also recommend getting a bulk of metro tickets to move around, so you don’t have to fiddle with change any time you have to get the subway. Alternatively, get a hop on hop off bus ticket so that you can sightsee the city and get to the attractions you want to see at the same time. You can get it here.
Finally, make sure to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking; and opt for a quick lunch at one of the many fabulous bakeries in town.
The Best Itinerary To See Paris In A Day
Palais-Royal is very close to the Louvre and it opens really early, so it is easy to pop in for a short while to take some photos of the building and of the lovely striped columns exhibit without taking time away from the rest of the attractions.
It used to be the home of Cardinal Richelieu, who lived there until his death in 1642. It then became the home of Philippe II Duke of Orléans. It now houses the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture.
Palais-Royal opens at 7:00 or 7:30 am depending on the season, and closes late. You can get in for free.
You can’t go to Paris and skip the Louvre. It honestly is a masterpiece from all points of view. Although this is the largest museum in the world, plan to spend no more than 4 hours inside or else you won’t have time to visit the rest of the city!
Once a fortress and the residence of the king, it became an art gallery in the 1700s, after Louis XIV moved the court to Versailles. It houses some of the finest paintings and sculptures in the world, including the famous Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. It actually is a gorgeous building to explore, with grand rooms, ceilings that are incredibly detailed, marble floors. The Pyramid outside gives it a modern, eclectic touch.
In order to visit the Louvre, you will need to get tickets in advance and select a time slot for your visit. Opt to get in at 9:00 am, as soon as it opens. You can get your ticket here.
The Louvre is Wednesday to Monday, from 9:00 am to at 6:00 pm. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. Admission is €17.
Arc de Triomphe
If you are planning to visit Paris in a day, you won’t have much time to go up the Arc de Triomphe – but you should definitely try to pass by it. This impressive structure was built to celebrate war victories and to pay respect to the many who died during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. It is located on Place de l’Etoile, at one end of the Champs-Elysées.
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. Admission is €13. You can get tickets here.
On your way to the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe, pass by the Trocadéro. It’s one of the best locations in Paris to get views of the tower.
River Seine Cruise
A cruise along the Seine may be yet another chance to get incredible views of the city. Depending on the time you do it, you will get daytime, sunset or even night views. You will also pass by Notre-Dame – currently under restoration after the fire of April 2019.
Seine river cruises depart from and return to the Eiffel Tower, thus fitting nicely in this itinerary. They vary in duration – some are very quick, other lasts around one and a half hour. Some include an audio-guide, others are literally hop on hop off. Pick the one that most suits your needs and timetable.
To book your cruise, click here.
The Eiffel Tower is probably the most iconic place to visit in Paris. It was built in 1889 for the World Expo, and it was meant to be taken down soon afterwards. Back then it attracted lots of negative press, but it eventually became an integral part of the city. It is 324 meters (1063 feet) tall and was once the tallest building in France. It now holds the record for the highest man made observation deck in Europe, at 276 meters (905.5 feet).
Visiting the Eiffel Tower will take you around 2 hours, from the time you arrive to the time you leave.
Tickets to the Eiffel Tower must be booked in advance. The price varies depending on which level you visit and whether you take the elevator or not. The starting price is €10.50 and that will take you to the second floor (stair access only).
You can get your ticket here.
The Eiffel Tower is open daily from 9:00 or 9:30 am to 5:30 pm (for stair users) or 11:45 am (for lift users). Opening times vary with season – for more information, check the official website.
Tour Montparnasse is conveniently located near Gare Montparnasse, from where you can take the bus to Paris Orly Airport or the RER to Charles de Gaulle Airport, in case you need to leave immediately afterwards.
Montparnasse Tower was built in the early 1970s. It is Paris’ second highest building with its 210 meters (689 feet). It is thought to be the ugliest building in Paris – but when you are in it, you don’t really get to se it. And the views from it are impressive – perhaps even better than those from the Eiffel Tower, because from it you get to see Eiffel Tower in all its glory.
The observation deck of Montparnasse Tower is open daily from11:00 am to 10:30 pm. Admission to the observation deck is €15 and you can get tickets in advance here.
Practical Tips To Enjoy Paris In A Day
Guided Tours Of Paris
This itinerary can be easily followed independently, but you may also want to save the hassle of booking everything in advance and simply join a guided tour that will take you to most of the attractions mentioned in this post, including the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, and a guided walking tour of Montmartre.
Full day guided tours are quite expensive – we’re looking at $198 for a nine-hour tour, but a good option for a completely hassle free day. I recommend Take Walks Paris in a Day with Skip the Line Louvre Tour, Eiffel Tower, Montmartre & Seine River Cruise – you can book it here.
Where to stay in Paris
If you plan to see Paris in a day, stay in an area that is well connected to all attractions. I recommend Les Marais. It’s a lovely, quaint and safe area very close to the Louvre and Notre-Dame, with many good cafés, bars and restaurants.
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 a good choice for travelers on a budget, with plain but clean dorms. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
Using a Paris Pass
If you are keen on getting a Paris Pass, there’s one that starts at €57, but it doesn’t include the Eiffel Tower.
You can get it here.
How to get to Paris
Paris can be easily reached by plane – there are good connections to the rest of Europe and the world; or by train from many cities in France and Europe.
Charles de Gaulle Airport is the main hub for Air France, which has connections from many airports in the US and Europe. The best way to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle is the train.
How to move around Paris
Unless you can walk everywhere, opt for the metro. A ticket costs €1.90.
Other useful tips
Here are some final tips to make the most of your day in Paris:
LUGGAGE STORAGE – Luggage storage facilities can be found all around Paris, mostly near train and bus stations and often right in the terminal. Storage costs start at €5 per day. BagBnB is a good place to look for the nearest or most convenient location. If you need to store your bags, make sure to reserve in advance.
GET A DATA PLAN – Make sure your smartphone is unlocked so that you can either get a local SIM card (if you are on a longer trip across France or Europe) and that you can use data outside of your home country. You need it so you can access apps such as Google Maps that will come in handy.
MIND THE SCAMS – Scams and touts are as common in Paris – just as in any other major tourist destination. The most common scams are: the friendship bracelet, the golden ring, the cup and ball. Mind pickpockets on the bus or the metro – use your regular cautions, it is no more no less than the pickpockets issues you have in any other big city.
Make sure to read my other posts:
- 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
- A Fabulous Itinerary For 2 Days In Paris
- Seven Smart Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line
- A Guide To The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France
- Eight Incredibly Smart Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- 27 Cool Things To Do In Montmartre, Paris