Can you visit 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 – if it is your first time in Paris, you should make it a point to go to the most famous places to visit in Paris and get a feel for the city until your next trip (because I am sure there will be more!).
Honestly, you can expect to have a very packed and somehow rushed day. 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.
Are you unsure where to start planning? Don’t worry, I am here to help. I have been to Paris several times, and know the city well, so I thought I’d creat an easy-to-follow itinerary for a day in Paris. I will also share a series of hacks to help you navigate the city.
Continue reading and start preparing!
Paris In A Day Itinerary Overview
Here is a quick overview if your Paris in a day itinerary:
- Louvre Museum
- Saint Chapelle Church
- Montparnasse Tower – possibly pass by the Luxembourg Gardens
- Eiffel Tower
- Seine River Cruise
- Arc de Triomph and Champs-Élysées
How To Use This Paris In A Day Itinerary
This itinerary is based on the assumption that you have at least a day in Paris – that is, 24 hours in Paris as a minimum, and 12 full hours for sightseeing. I have picked the best attractions in Paris, selected one of the best museums in Paris; and places where you can get incredible views of the city.
It is a really packed itinerary, and I recommend heading out for sightseeing no later than 8:00 am. If you feel it is too much, or if you feel the cost of visiting all the attractions in a day adds up, simply skip the attractions that don’t interest you.
You will need to book admission to all these Paris attractions in advance – in some cases, it is actually a requirement. Don’t worry, I will tell how to do it.
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 boulangeries (bakeries in English) or bistrots in town.
Map Of Your Itinerary
To see the map of your itinerary for a day in Paris you will be following, click here. You can definitely walk to most places, but there will be occasions when you will be better off using the subway.
The Best Itinerary To See Paris In A Day
Not many Paris in a day itineraries include the Palais-Royal, because it hardly is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris. However, it is conveniently located close to the Louvre Museum and it opens earlier than anything else, so it’s easy to pop in beforse you head to the museum.
The palace 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.
You can walk inside the central open hall to check out the striped columns exhibit that are fun to photograph.
Palais-Royal opens at 7:00 or 7:30 am depending on the season. It’s free to visit.
You can’t go to Paris and skip the Louvre. It honestly is a masterpiece from all points of view.
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, and more statues from antiquity and other ancient cultures.
Visitint the Louvre however is not just about its collection. 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.
There is always a line to get inside the Louvre, and tickets to this museum are often sold out, especially during the peak summer months. You really need to plan this visit well ahead of time, and get tickets in advance. With these tickets, you can just use the fast-track access that only involves security checks.
The Louvre works on a time-slot system, so you must pick one for your visit.
The first time slot for the Louvre is at 9:00 am so plan to be there a bit earlier to get in line for the security checks. It’s a massive museum and a day is not enough to explore all of it, but if you only have 1 day in Paris you really can’t devote more than 3 hours to it.
There are various ways of getting tickets to the Louvre:
You can use the Louvre official website to get your tickets. The site is unfortunately a bit confusing. It’s also the cheapest way of getting tickets, which means these are the first ones that sell out.
The Paris Museum Pass includes tickets to the Louvre, but you can’t go directly to the museum. You will first have to book a time-slot for your visit on the official website.
Another way of getting tickets is on third party booking sites. These are very easy to use, and they allow you to pick a time slot directly. Tickets are sold for the same price of the official site, but here you will find more availability if you try to book last minute. You can also get fast track tickets to the Louvre on Tiqets or there’s also GetYourGuide that sells Louvre tickets.
My personal recommendation is to join this masterpieces guided tour of the Louvre – it has free cancellation, the tour lasts 3 hours which is ideal, and you will have a guide taking you to all the key pieces in the gallery and giving you explanations about them. The first tour departs at 9:00 am which is perfect for this itinerary.
Finally, there’s also this excellent The Complete Louvre Tour: Mona Lisa & Beyond run by the very reputable Take Walks. Again, this tour has free cancellation. The only issue with this tour is that the first one departs at 10:00 am.
The Louvre is open every day but Tuesdays. It is is closed on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. Check the opening hours on the official website.
Make sure to read my post How To Get Tickets To The Louvre.
Since you can’t go inside Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral (after the fire that almost destroyed it in April 2019, it’s scheduled to open again on 8 December 2024) I thought I’d give you the option of visiting one of the most beautiful churches in Paris.
This 13th century Gothic church is decorated with floor to ceiling stained glass windows. It’s honestly a magnificent sight and you really should not miss it during your trip to Paris.
It will take you about 15 minutes to walk there from the Louvre, and you should factor in about one hour to explore it. The church works on a time-slot system and you should book your visit in advance. Book your time slot for about 12:30 to get there comfortably.
You can also get tickets to Saint Chapelle on GetYourGuide for the exact same price for which they are sold on the official website – the added bonus is that they have free cancellation.
Sainte Chapelle is open every day except for 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
From Saint Chapel, walk to the Cité subway station and take Line 4 to Bagneux – Lucie Aubrac. Get off after 6 stops at Paris Montparnasse Hall 1 – 2.
Another option is to walk there through the gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens – it will take you around one hour, but on the plus side of you are visiting in the good season this is a fantastic picnic spot.
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.
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. You will also see the Montparnasse district and La Defense.
The observation deck of Montparnasse Tower is open daily from 9:30 am. It closes later at the weekend. Admission to the rooftop terrace is included in the Paris Museum Pass, or else you can also get it here.
You should also read my post Where To Get The Best Views In Paris.
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. If you are not staying in Paris overnight but need to head straight to the airport, you may want to leave this as your last attraction of the day and follow the itinerary as detailed in this map.
To get to the Eiffel Tower walk back to Paris Montparnasse Hall 1 – 2 and hop on a Line 6 train headed to Charles de Gaulle-Etoile. You will need to get off at Bir-Hakeim, from where it is another 10 minutes walk to the tower.
The Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel in French) is the most iconic tourist attraction in Paris and an absolute must-see.
Built in 1889 for the World Expo, it is 324 meters (1,063 feet) tall and once was the tallest building in France. With its 276 meters (905.5 feet), it now is the highest man made observation deck in Europe.
You have several options for accessing the Eiffel Tower – you can get to the first and second level (using the stairs or the elevator) and even take the elevator from the second floor all the way to the summit. The admission ticket will vary depending on which level you want to visit (the higher, the more expensive).
Many will say that the second level offers the best views. I have been to all three and honestly there is no comparison – the summit has the best panorama, and the plus there is that you will also see Eiffel’s secret apartment.
From up there you can see the Arc de Triomphe, the Champ de Mars, and all the way to Montmartre and even spot the Sacre Cour. If you have a good camera with a long lens, make sure to bring it! Or perhaps even take binoculars.
The Eiffel Tower works on a time slot system and you really need to get tickets in advance. There will be lines at the security check, but it moves much faster than the one at the ticket office (not to mention, tickets often sell out). I recommend picking the 4:00 pm time slot, even 4:30 if you want to be a bit more comfortable.
Here’s how to get tickets.
The cheapest Eiffel Tower Tickets are found on the official Eiffel Tower site – these tickets are not refundable and they are the first to sell out.
You can also use the Paris Museum Pass – though remember you need to book a time slot separately on the Eiffel Tower site. A better alternative is the Paris City Card which allows you to pick a time slot directly.
The Eiffel Tower is open every day. Closing times vary with the season and differ between stairs and elevator so you should check the official website for more information.
Make sure to read my post How To Get Tickets To The Eiffel Tower.
Seine River Cruise
The dock to board your Seine River Cruise is just outside the Eiffel Tower, so you really can’t miss it.
The views along the cruise are absolutely stunning. You will see the Eiffel Tower from the perspective of the river, and many other places. In fact, depending on the season you may even be able to cruise right in time for sunset.
Cruises last about one hour – though there are longer cruises that include dinner and drinks too. They go by the most popular landmarks in Paris, including Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre, the Orsay Museum, and then go back to the Eiffel Tower.
The Paris Museum Pass includes tickets for a Seine River cruise.
Otherwise, consider booking this cruise that departs right outside the Eiffel Tower and includes an audio-guide commentary in a variety of languages.
For more information, you should read my post How To Pick The Best Seine River Cruise.
Once you disembark the cruise, cross the bridge and head to the Trocadero. It’s on the way to the Arc de Triomphe. It usually is quite crowded but you may be lucky as crowds start leaving towards the end of the day. The views of the Eiffel Tower from there are stunning, so don’t miss this photo opportunity!
Arc de Triomphe
Located in Place de l’Etoile, this is one of the most impressive buildings in Paris, so you should not miss it. The Arc de Triomphe was built to celebrate the people who died during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. It is 50-meters (164 feet) tall, so quite big!
Interestingly, the Arc de Triomphe is at the very center of a large (and very trafficked) roundabout.
You can stop to admire from the outside, but for an extra experience plan to go up (you have a choice of stairs and elevator) for stunning views (and more photo opportunities) La Défense – Paris business district, and the Eiffel Tower. The stairs on the way out are quite an interesting sight too.
The site is open daily, usually until late – opening times vary depending on the season but you are better off checking the official Arc de Triomphe website for more information. It is closed on 1 January, 1 May, 8 May (morning), 14 July (morning), 11 November (morning) and 25 December.
As the Arc de Triomphe is located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, you may want to conclude your day with a walk along the most famous boulevard in Paris. You can find many restaurants there, in case you want to stop for dinner (though some are actually quite touristy).
Practical Tips To Enjoy Paris In A Day
Guided Tours Of Paris
This itinerary can be easily followed independently. If you may also want to spare the hassle of booking everything in advance and simply forget about the worry of looking at a map, you can also join a guided tour. There are several that take you to the most famous attractions mentioned in this post.
I recommend this Paris in a Day with Skip the Line Louvre Tour, Eiffel Tower, Montmartre & Seine River Cruise – it is run by the very reputable Take Walks and highly reviewed. It goes to most places mentioned in this post, and also includes the lovely Montmartre district.
Where to stay in Paris
When visiting Paris in a day, it is essential to stay in an area that is well connected to all attractions. My favorite is the very quaint and still very local Marais District. It’s walking distance to the Louvre and Notre-Dame, and you will find 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.
- 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.
- Young and Happy Latin Quarter by Hiphophostels is a good choice for travelers on a budget, with plain but clean dorms.
Using a Paris Pass
If you are trying to visit Paris in a day but on a budget, using a Paris Museum Pass or a Paris City Card is probably a good idea, as you will have access to many attractions with fast track tickets. Some passes also include public transportation, but read the small print to double check.
Here are the two main pass options in Paris:
Paris Museum Pass – this is the most popular option in terms of Paris passes. You can buy a one-day pass, but you will then have to go to the official website of the places you intend to visit to make a reservation.
Paris City Card – this pass is a bit more expensive but a better option as it allows you to book the time slots for the attractions you wish to visit directly on the site where you buy it from, so you don’t have to make separate reservations for the various sites via the official website.
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 easiest way of getting from Charles de Gaulle to Paris City Center is actually by RER train – there are regular departures from the station inside the airport, and it takes between 25 and 50 minutes to get to the Gare Du Nord Station. You can also travel by bus: it takes around 40 minutes but that really depends on traffic.
You have the option of taking the bus, which will be around 30-45 minutes, or you can take the RER train from the airport which takes between 25 and 50 minutes to Gare du Nord, depending on if it is a fast or a slow service.
The second airport of Paris is Paris Orly. From there, you can take a bus to the center of Paris – it takes about 20 minutes.
You can book your private transfer from the airport to the city center via Welcome Pickups here.
For more information, head over to my post How To Get From Charles De Gaulle Airport CDG To Paris.
How to move around Paris
The best way to move around Paris is the subway – Metropolitan or simply metro in French. It connects all corners of the city, and it is cheap and convenient. There are also buses and trams you can use.
You can use the same ticket – which you can buy at any station – on the subway, buses and trams. But for convenience you may want to get the new Navigo Card, a card that is on sale at any station and that you works as a contactless to let you in and out of the subway.
The Navigo Card costs €2 for the card, plus whatever you top it up with (single tickets, a day ticket which is probably the most convenient thing when seeing Paris in a day) or even a carnet of 10 tickets. You can top it up at any ticket counter at the station, or using the Bonjour RATP app which works on both Andrioid and iOS.
Another option to move around may be the hop-on hop-off bus. You will want to follow the “classic route” which has stops near the various places mentioned in this post. You will also have a commentary on the bus that you can listen to via headphones. You can get your ticket here.
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.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER – Tap water is safe to drink in Paris, unless you find a sign that suggests otherwise. You can obviously buy bottled water, but to avoid using plastic I recommend bringing your own water bottle. My favorite bottle is the Super Sparrow water bottle. It keeps water cold for hours and comes in various sizes.
GET A DATA PLAN – Make sure your smartphone is unlocked so that you can get a local SIM card (if you are on a longer trip across France or Europe), or else buy a data plan from your provider so that you can use data outside of your home country. You will need it to 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 subway – use your regular cautions, it is no more no less than the pickpockets issues you have in any other big city.
My post The Worst Scams And Pickpockets In Paris will give you lots of tips on how to react to scams and avoid them.
If you have more time in Paris, these posts will be useful to plan your trip:
- 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
- How To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line
- A Guide To The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France
- How To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- 27 Cool Things To Do In Montmartre, Paris