It is impossible to see Paris in a day. Should you still go if that is all the time you have? You really should! This is an incredible city and even if you just have 24 hours in Paris you can still take in the magic atmosphere, the colors, the gorgeous sights.
But I warn you: with one day in Paris you only get to see a fraction of what the city has to offer. The good news is that you will manage to see the most famous attractions and get a feel for it. You will likely fall in love with it and vow to go again – next time for longer.
One thing for sure, if you only have one day in Paris you have to plan everything carefully and follow an itinerary almost religiously. You won’t have time to improvise – at least not if you want to get into the attractions. Quite the opposite: you will have to pick a time for each of the attractions you want to visit, and buy skip-the-line tickets in advance or risk being stuck at the ticket counter (often to find out everything is sold out).
If planning isn’t your biggest strength I suggest leaving it to the experts – aka yours truly. I am a massive fan of drafting itinerary. You can follow the one I have created for you and rest assured you will have a good time. All you have to to is get yourself to Paris, buy online tickets to the attractions any time I recommend it and enjoy.
Continue reading do find out what to see and do if you are visiting Paris in a day.
How To Use This Paris In A Day Itinerary
Before I tell you what you can see and do in Paris in a day, let me stress again that one day in Paris is not even enough to scratch its surface. If you want to make sure you visit the attractions in this itinerary, you really need to get skip the line, timed entrance tickets.
Paris is a very popular tourist destination. In 2019 it received a whopping 19.1 million visitors, second in the world only to Bangkok. Attractions such as the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower are often sold out. You can’t expect to go there and get a last minute ticket.
Below I will share all the practical information about the places to visit in Paris and let you know the best sites where you can get skip the line tickets.
This itinerary is based on the assumption that you have at least one full day in Paris – that is, 24 hours in Paris as a minimum.
This itinerary is packed. 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.
I have left as last the attractions that are open late – so you don’t have to rush too much during the day. But I recommend to keep your timing!
Below are a few recommendations that will help you make the most of this itinerary.
Paris in a day itinerary recommendations
These are some important tips that will help you make the most of your day in Paris:
- Head out early! The first place you’ll visit opens at 7:30 am in the winter months and at 7:00 am in the summer.
- Get skip-the-line tickets for the attractions you want to visit;
- Buy a bulk of metro ticket 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.
- If your one day in Paris is a Wednesday or a Friday, consider following this itinerary the other way around and leave the Louvre for last;
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes;
- Eat lunch on the go – there are plenty of good bakeries in Paris where you can get a sandwich
Follow this itinerary and I promise you will make the most of Paris in a day.
Map Of Your Paris In A Day Itinerary
To see the map of your Paris in a day itinerary, 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.
Guided Tours Of Paris
The itinerary I have drafted to see Paris in a day can be done 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.
These are a few good guided tours of Paris that go to all the most famous attractions:
- Paris in a Day with Skip the Line Louvre Tour, Eiffel Tower, Montmartre & Seine River Cruise – a fabulous guided small group tour, it goes to most of the places I mention, with the add on of Montmartre which certainly is a bonus. It may be a bit rushed but you certainly get a great feel for the city.
- Paris highlights full day tour – this 6 hours tour goes to the Eiffel Tower summit and includes a Seine River Cruise and a walk around Ile de la Cite, finishing outside the Louvre.
Finally, let me tell you all about the places you can visit in Paris in a day.
Paris In A Day: 7 Fabulous Place To Visit
The following are some of the most beautiful places you’ll get to see in Paris. You can try to see all of them – if you are good with time, you will certainly manage – or go straight to those that most interest you and skip the ones you are not particularly interested in visiting.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Palais-Royal opens at 7:00 or 7:30 am and closes late. You can get in for free.
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. Palais Royal then became the home of Philippe II Duke of Orléans. It now houses the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Louvre is open every day except Tuesdays, from 9:00 am to at 6:00 pm. On Wednesdays and Fridays it closes at 9:45 pm. The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
You can’t go to Paris and skip the Louvre. It honestly is a masterpiece from all points of view.
The Louvre used to be a fortress and the residence of the king, but 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.
Unfortunately the Louvre can get very crowded and tickets are often sold out weeks in advance. You have to plan your visit and buy your tickets as soon as you know you’ll be going. I also believe a guided tour is better than an independent visit, as knowledgeable guides will be able to dodge the crowds, take you to all the masterpieces and give you insights about them.
TIP: Try to get inside the Louvre as soon as it opens at 9:00 am. You can get 9:00 am entry tickets to the Louvre only on the official website here. Guided tours are offered too, but the system is a bit tricky so if you want a guided tour I recommend booking one of those below.
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. It is good value for money, groups are small and the guides very good.
- Louvre Museum skip the line
- Louvre Museum e-ticket
- Louvre Highlights Tour: Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo & Winged Victory – another good tour with a strong focus on these 3 pieces.
- Closing Time At The Louvre: The Mona Lisa At Her Most Peaceful – a late evening tour option.
GOOD TO KNOW: The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world, but if you visit Paris in a day, plan to spend 4 hours maximum.
SMART TIP: If you are in Paris on a Wednesday or Friday, you may want to 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 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.
On your way to the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe you can pass by the Trocadéro. It’s one of the best locations in Paris to get views of the tower. Mind you, it can get very crowded during the day.
TIP: If you follow this itinerary in reverse you may actually want to get started at the Trocadero, at sunrise, for beautiful unobstructed views.
River Seine Cruise
If you just have a day in Paris, 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 – which I have opted not to include in this itinerary as it currently under restoration after the fire of April 2019.
GOOD TO KNOW: Cruises usually depart from and return to the Eiffel Tower, thus fitting nicely in this itinerary.
Seine river cruises vary in duration – some are very quick, other lasts around one and a half hour, others even longer as they include dinner. They also vary in form – some include an audio-guide, others are literally hop on hop off. Pick the one that most suits your needs and timetable.
This is a selection of good cruises:
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). Opening times vary with season – make sure to check the official website for the opening and closing time of the day you are visiting.
GOOD TO KNOW: I have decided to leave the Eiffel Tower among the last attractions of the day because it is open until very late. This will give you more time to enjoy the rest of the city at a more leisurely pace.
The Eiffel Tower is probably the most iconic place to visit in Paris. Whether you are visiting Paris in a day or more, you should make it a point to go.
The tower was built in 1889 for the World Expo – it was meant to be taken down soon afterwards and attracted lots of negative press, but it eventually became an integral part of the city. It is 324 meters 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.
WARNING: Even if you buy skip the lines ticket to visit the Eiffel Tower, there will be some (usually quick moving) lines to go through security and to get into the elevator.
Make sure to read my full guide on visiting the Eiffel Tower.
TIP: Keep in mind that visiting the Eiffel Tower will take you around 2 hours, from the time you arrive to the time 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 get all the way to the second floor. You can get your tickets to the summit separately on the premises.
- Eiffel Tower skip the line ticket with summit access – my favorite option as it the most inclusive and hassle free one. You even get to see Eiffel secret apartment.
- Eiffel Tower summit guided visit
- Eiffel Tower guided tour
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The observation deck of Montparnasse Tower is open daily from 9:30 am to either 10:30 or 11:30 pm. Make sure to check the website for the opening and closing time on the day you intend to visit.
I thought of adding Montparnasse Tower to your itinerary just in case you have a couple of extra hours to spare – or perhaps you have decided to skip some of the other attractions. It is also conveniently located near Gare Montparnasse, from where you can take the bus to Paris Orly Airport or the RER to Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Montparnasse is one of the nicest neighborhood in town. If you only have one day in Paris, you really won’t have time to explore but perhaps, depending on how you decide to manage this itinerary, you will have time to go up Montparnasse Tower. This is thought to be the ugliest building in Paris – and in fact, from a distance it looks less than charming. But the good news is that 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.
In fact, from Montparnasse Tower you get to see all the way to the Eiffel Tower.
Montparnasse Tower was built in the early 1970s. It is Paris’ second highest building with its 210 meters.
TIP: Get tickets to the roof terrace in advance here.
Practical Tips To Enjoy Paris In A Day
Where to stay in Paris
If you plan to see Paris in a day, make sure to stay in a part of town that is close or well connected to all attractions. I recommend staying in 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 to see Paris in a day
There aren’t many Paris Pass options for one day in Paris. The only one you may find useful is one that costs €87.20 and that includes admission to the Eiffel Tower, a Seine river cruise and a hop-on hop-off bus. You can get it here.
When to visit Paris
Any time is a good time to visit Paris. I recommend going in the spring and early fall months. Temperatures are milder and you may get a bit less crowds.
How to get to Paris
Paris can be easily reached by either by plane with good connections to the rest of Europe and the world, or train 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. You can search for flights here.
The best way to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle is the train.
Make sure to read my post How To Get From Charles De Gaulle Airport CDG To Paris.
How to move around Paris
If you are visiting Paris in a days, I recommend moving around by metro. A ticket costs €1.90.
Luggage storage in Paris
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.
Other useful tips
Get a data plan for your smartphone
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.
Get a guide book
Bring a good guide book. These are some good ones:
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.
I will be writing a post about the most common scams in Paris soon.
Get a good travel insurance
Further readings about Paris
Make sure to read my other posts about Paris and its attractions:
- 33 Incredible Places To Visit In Paris
- The Best Museums In Paris
- A Week In Paris Itinerary: What To See And Do
- 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
- Seven Smart Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line
- 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