There are many incredible places to visit in Paris. Whatever kind of traveler you are, Paris is bound to meet – and in fact, to exceed – your expectations.
Whether you are a lover of fine arts or enjoy contemporary architecture; whether you like tiny cobbled alleys or prefer the grandeur of large boulevards; whether you like hitting all the tourist spots or finding hidden gems; and even if you are a lover of gourmet food and good wine, you will find something for you in Paris.
With so many things to see in Paris, you could spend years there without ever getting bored. After all, there is a good reason this is one of the most visited cities in the world. According to Forbes, more than a 19 million people visited Paris in 2018 only. The city was second only to Bangkok.
The other side of the coin of the city being so popular, however, is that it is crowded with tourists who all inevitably want to visit all the same places. And unless you plan your (limited) time there very carefully, you may end up being stuck in line trying to get tickets to the most famous tourist attractions. I will never tell you to avoid these places though – in fact, I suggest you go, but knowing what to expect.
But let’s face it: chances are that you don’t have years to spend exploring the city, but at most a week, and during that week you should be able to enjoy yourself and avoid any hassle.
Worry not though! I am here to help so that you can have a wonderful time in the Ville Lumiere.
In this post, I will tell what I believe are the unmissable places to visit in Paris, as well mention some of those that aren’t as famous, but which are still worth visiting. I will also mention a few places that are perfect for a day trip out of the city. And in order to help you manage your time in Paris more efficiently, I will also share a few tips on how to avoid the big lines at tourist attractions so that you can have a memorable trip.
Continue reading to discover all the nicest places to visit in Paris.
39 Gorgeous Places To Visit In Paris
Think of Paris and the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Eiffel Tower. Built for the 1889 World Expo, the tower is 324 meters high and was the tallest structure in France until 2004. It also has the highest accessible observation deck in Europe – it’s at 276 meters.
This is all to say that – whether you are into touristy things or not – there’s no denying that this is one of the unmissable places to visit in Paris.
The bad news is that the lines to climb the tower are long. If you just show up at the ticket counter, you can expect to stand for a long while before you are allowed to access it. The good news is that you can get online tickets that allow you to jump the line.
These are the best tickets and tours:
- Eiffel Tower second floor priority access
- Eiffel Tower ticket with summit access
- Eiffel Tower summit guided visit
- Paris in a Day tour with Louvre Tour, Eiffel Tower and more
Make sure to read my post “Seven Smart Ways To Get Eiffel Tower Tickets.”
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Open daily from 9:00 or 9:30 am. Closing time is 6:30 pm for stair users and 00:45 am for elevator users. Price varies depending on the level you want to go to. Book in advance.
GOOD TO KNOW: Right below the tower, you will find the Eiffel Carrousel, one of the most beautiful merry-go-rounds in the city. Other beautiful ones are the the Dodo Manège, located Jardins des Plantes, and the one right below the Sacré-Cœur.
Champ de Mars
If you visit the Eiffel Tower, chances are you’ll also be walking through the Champ de Mars. This park, which was first opened in 1780, is located next to the École Militaire and it’s often used for national events. It’s a favorite of both tourists and locals, who can often be seen there having a picnic or just relaxing and enjoying the fabulous views of the tower. The bonus? It can be accessed for free! It’s definitely one of the places to visit in Paris.
The Tour Eiffel can be admired from many places in Paris, but if there is a view you should wake up to, that’s the one from the Trocadéro. The sunrise light is just gorgeous, and the fact that not many people make the effort to get out of bed so early means that you are likely to have unobstructed views.
Arc de Triomphe
Another one of the symbols of Paris is the Arc de Triomphe, which is located on Place de l’Etoile at the end of the Champs-Elysées and right at the center of the Axe Historique, a line that links all the monuments from La Défense to the Louvre.
This massive arch was erected to celebrate war victories and to homage those that died during the French Revolution and in the Napoleonic Wars.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Open every day from 10:00 am to 10:30 or 11:00 pm, depending on the season. Closed during national holidays.
This is probably one of the most touristy places to visit in Paris, yet a must. It runs all the way from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, and it is (rightly) thought to be the boulevard that symbolizes the city. Along the Champs Élysées you will find restaurants, cafés beautiful boutiques, gorgeous palaces, movie theaters and even the Lido, one of Paris most famous cabaret shows.
This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Paris. The building itself is beautiful, but it’s the columns right in front of it that give it an edgy look.
Once a royal property and called Palais-Cardinal, the Palais-Royal used to be the not-so-humble home of Cardinal Richelieu, who lived there until his death in 1642. It then became property of Philippe II Duke of Orléans, who was the regent of the monarchy when Louis XV became king at age 5 in 1715.
The building is now home to the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture. It’s located right opposite the Louvre Museum. Its courtyard houses an art installation of striped columns of different sizes.
Rumor has it that a day is not enough to visit the Louvre, which is the largest museum in the world. In fact, the building is itself a work of art. It definitely is one of the places to visit in Paris.
Originally a fortress, in the 1700s Louvre Palace became a gallery where artists could study and practice. The museum houses some of the most famous paintings in the world, including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
As the Louvre regularly attracts crowds of tourists, the best way to avoid the lines is to get tickets in advance. In fact, you may want to consider a guided tour that shows you to the most important pieces and gives you enough background information.
The following are the best ticket options and guided tours for the Louvre:
- Ultimate Louvre guided tour
- Louvre Highlights Tour: Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo & Winged Victory
- Closing Time At The Louvre: The Mona Lisa At Her Most Peaceful
Check out my post “Nine Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Louvre.”
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Open Wednesdays to Mondays, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Closed on Tuesdays and on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December. Closing time is at 9:45 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays.
GOOD TO KNOW: The Tuileries Gardens right behind the museum are a fantastic place for a walk!
Art lovers can’t skip this museum, which is located very close to the Louvre. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art in the world, with works of artists such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh and many more. The building itself is stunning – it was once a train station (Gare D’Orsay, which was built for the universal expo) and it was finely renovated to house the museum.
To make the most of this museum, it’s probably better that you take a guided tour. Besides, there often are lines at the ticket counter so you may as well book your tickets and tour online to avoid wasting precious time.
These are the best guided tours and ticket options:
- Musée d’Orsay reserved access 1-day admission ticket
- Highlights of the Musée d’Orsay Tour: Meet the Impressionists
- Musée d’Orsay dedicated entrance
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. On Thurdsays it closes at 9:45 pm.
GOOD TO KNOW: Another interesting art museum – not to mention one of the most unique places to visit in Paris – is Jacquemart-André, which is a private museum in what used to be the house of the André-Jacquemart and that displays their fabulous collection.
Palais Garnier is the French Opera House – the very one where the Phantom of the Opera is set. It’s a truly gorgeous theater where you can see opera or ballet and one of the most impressive places to see in town. You can decide to visit on a guided tour or attend a show for an even better experience.
Even if you don’t go inside, make sure to at least pass by the Centre Pompidou as it’s one of the coolest places to visit in Paris. Located in the 4th arrondissement, it houses the National Museum of Modern Art – which is Europe’s largest modern art museum with works of the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, as well as regular exhibits; and a huge library. If you are interested in visiting, you can get your tickets here.
GOOD TO KNOW: Right behind the center, you will find one a small square that is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Paris for people watching.
Mentioning Notre Dame Cathedral as one of the places to visit in Paris after the massive fire that destroyed it in April 2019 makes little sense. Yet I find that if you are going to Paris you should at least pay homage to one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. It’s located in Ile de la Cite.
Sainte-Chapelle is a truly gorgeous church that was built in the 13th century in Gothic style. Like the Notre Dame, it is located in Ile de la Cite. It’s known for its floor to ceiling stained glass windows. You may want to get tickets in advance for your visit. This option costs €11.50 – the official price.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. From 1 April to 30 September it closes at 7:00 pm. Closed on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
GOOD TO KNOW: On the way to the church, you may want to stop by Saint-Jacques Tower. With its 52 meters, this the only thing left of the 16th century Gothic Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie, which was destroyed during the revolution.
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole
The combination of making good coffee, being the cutest little coffee shop in Paris, and being close to Notre Dame Cathedral make this café just about perfect. It’s located in the lovely Rue Chanoinesse, a nice medieval street. Not far from the café you’ll find a small courtyard paved with gravestones.
One of the nicest things to do in Paris is cruising the Seine river. Perhaps a bit touristy, but this is also a great way of seeing the city from a different angle and – depending on the time of day you do it – in a different light.
Several companies organize the cruise – some include lunch or dinner with it, some include champagne, some have a live guide and others just an audio guide. Most of the time cruises depart from the area of the Eiffel Tower, but there are some that depart near Notre Dame. The most popular company is the Bateaux-Mouches.
I will be writing a more detailed guide that will help you pick the Seine river cruise that most suits you, but meantime here is a selection of a few good ones:
GOOD TO KNOW: If you happen to walk along the Seine river near the Cathedral, you will definitely spot the Bouquinistes. These are small stands selling used book and small, pretty souvenirs – a tradition that exists since the 16th century!
The Catacombs easily qualify as one of the spookiest places to visit in Paris. The area where they are located in what used to be a limestone mine started being filled with bodies at the end of the 18th century, when cemeteries started being too packed.
They are excavated at 20 meters below street level, so the temperature is steady year round. Bones were moved here up to 1810, at first being placed in no particular order but then organized in a more logic way.
The best way to visit the Catacombs is on a guided tour. These are some of the best ones that you can book online:
- Paris Catacombs special access small group tour
- Catacombs of Paris ticket and audio guide
- VIP Paris Catacombs Tour with Small Group and Special Access
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm. Closed on January 1, May 1 and December 25.
Montparnasse is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Paris, that well deserves to be explored. The best thing to do there is to get on Montparnasse Tower, Paris’ second highest building with its 210 meters, which was built in the early 1970s. The views from there are fabulous. The incredible views make it one of the unmissable places to visit in Paris. You can get your ticket to Montparnasse Tower roof terrace here.
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
Paris’ most famous department store, Galeries Lafayette opened in 1894, and it was refurbished a few times. It was in 1932 that it was given the Art Deco lift. It’s a fantastic place to shop for luxury items, but you can also catch wonderful views of the Tour Eiffel and the Opera Garnier from the rooftop.
Pont Alexandre III
Paris’ most famous bridge, Pont Alexandre III was built in 1900 for the World Expo and was named in honor of Tsar Alexander II in order to celebrate France’s new ties with Russia. It’s decorated with nymphs, cherubs and various other statues and it joins the two sides of the Seine where the Grand Palais and Les Invalides are located.
This 17th century complex was built in order to take care of war veterans. It eventually became a museum and the tomb of several prominent French figures, including Napoleon I. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings in town, so make sure to stop by for a peak even if you don’t intend to visit the Musée de l’Armée which is hosted there.
Place de la Concorde
This is Paris’ largest square and it is located between the Champs-Elysées and the Tuileries Garden. Its construction was completed in 1772, when it was named Place Louis XV. During the Revolution time, the square was named Place de la Révolution: this is where King Louis XVI and his wife Queen Marie Antoinette were executed.
Nowadays, the square hosts a fountain that dates back to the reign of Louis-Philippe and an obelisk that used to be at the entrance of Luxor Temple in Egypt.
Musee de l’Orangerie
One of the nicest places to visit in Paris is this museum that was built by Napoleon III and that hosts impressionist and modern art. Other than the works of Picasso, Matisse and Cezanne, the masterpiece here is the eight Water Lilies murals that were painted by Claude Monet and donated to the French government. It’s located in the west corner of the Jardine des Tuileries.
Currently hosting the law courts, parts of this beautiful building are open to the public who can enjoy the various halls. Up until the 14th century it was the seat of the French kings. But in 1358 King Charles V moved to the Louvre Palace. It then became a prison where inmates were organized based on their wealth. Famous inmates include Marie Antoinette and Napoleon III.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
If you have a thing for historical cemeteries, then make sure not to skip Père Lachaise Cemetery – it definitely is one of the quirkiest places to visit in Paris. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it was opened in the early 1800s and there are around 70000 plots, some of them hosting famous figures such as singers Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison, writers Balzac and Oscar Wilde, and many more.
It’s a very large park so you may want to go on a guided tour to explore it. You can book your visit here.
Known as the nicest neighborhood in Paris, Le Marais is packed with excellent restaurants, cafés and bars and it’s a nice place to explore. You’ll see beautiful buildings, quaint streets, artists’ ateliers, boutiques and even the Museum of French History.
One of the coolest places to visit in Paris is this 4.6 km canal which connects the Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine. More than half of it was actually filled (the part going from Rue du Faubourg du Temple to the Place de la Bastille) and it now is a pleasant place filled with boulevards where you will find nice boutiques and cafés. It’s great for a walk and even a picnic, and locals enjoy hanging out there whenever the sun is out.
Formerly the Red Light district of Paris, Pigalle is a really interesting neighborhood with lots to see and do. Its most famous street is Rue des Martyrs, which is packed with nice cafés, bookshops, antique stores, bakeries and even a live music venue – Le Divan du Monde.
Pigalle is also home to the famous Moulin Rouge.
Whether or not you want to sit down to see a show, you should at least pass by the Moulin Rouge – one of the most famous places to visit in Paris. This popular cabaret is famous for being the place where the can-can dance was invented. You can get your tickets for the show here.
One of the most iconic churches in Paris, this Romano-Byzantine white-domed basilica is located on top of Montmartre hill, where its construction was started in 1875. From the church – especially from its dome – you’ll be able to enjoy one of the best views of Paris.
Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet
One of the nicest views of Sacré-Coeur is from this small square. It’s a fairly hidden spot, where once the windmills of Paris where located and that is now perfect for some quiet time. Enjoy time in the small park – bring your book or a picnic. You can even visit the small museum about the history of the area.
If you are a fan of low houses, quaint looking shops, cobbled little alleys, small squares and an overall bohemian look, then you will love this part of town. This part of Paris became famous in the 19th century when it became the home and workplace of artists such as Monet, Renoir and Modigliani.
Montemartre is also a fantastic place for nightlife – and it’s very close to Pigalle.
This quarter is easy to explore, but if you’d like a more in depth experience you may want to join a guided tour. These are some of the best:
- Montmartre 2 hour walking tour
- Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre tour with expert guide
- Guided visit of Montmartre
Make sure to read my post “27 Cool Things To Do In Montmartre, Paris.”
Named after the language of academia used as Sorbonne University until the times of the Revolution, the Latin Quarter is a very interesting one. It’s a maze of narrow alleyways with a young feel – after all this is where the protests of 1968 started.
A general overlook at this part of town will reveal some of Paris’ most interesting places to visit. Make sure not to skip Place Saint-Michel!
Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company is one of the loveliest places to visit in Paris. It is an independent bookstore selling books in English and regularly holding all sorts of events. It’s located in the heart of the Latin Quarter, in a 17th century building that used to be a monastery.
Built upon orders of Maria de’ Medici at the beginning of the 17th century and currently owned by the French Senate which sits at the palace, Luxembourg Gardens – or Jardin du Luxembourg as they are known in Paris – are one of the nicest places to visit in Paris for a stroll in the shade, especially during the summer. Scattered around the park there are statues, some of which representing 20 French queens. Make sure to also admire Medici’s fountain.
GOOD TO KNOW: For a unique place away from the tourist crowds, opt to go to Buttes-Chaumont Park. It’s located in the 19th arrondissement at about 40 minutes walk from Les Marais.
One of the highlights of the Latin Quarter is the Pantheon, which is located on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève and 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 and – much like its equivalent in Rome, from which it inevitably borrows, it was originally meant as a church but during the Revolution time it was turned into a mausoleum.
This lovely quarter became very popular at the beginning of the 20th century, when it was a nightlife hotspot and thanks to the low rents attracted a young crowd and became home of jazz clubs and gave shelter to Paris’ gay community. It’s a nice place to explore if you are in search of small independent bookshops, cute cafes and art galleries. You’ll also find Saint-Germain-des-Prés church, considered Paris’s oldest church.
This lovely street of very colorful buildings is a nice one to walk along. Unfortunately it became more and more popular with travelers, so if you want to have it for yourself make it a point to go very early in the morning.
One of the coolest places to visit in Paris if you like contemporary architecture is La Defense. It’s located at the very far end of the Axe Historique and it pretty much started developing int he 1960s, when the modern skyscrapers started being built.
The nicest views of La Defense are actually from the Arc de Triomphe – from there, you can see all the way to the 110-meter Grande Arche which was completed in 1989.
If you only go on a day trip during your trip to Paris, it has to be to Versailles. This incredible palace is the symbol of all the excesses of the French Monarchy – it went from being a hunting lodge to a proper castle where the king lived surrounded by his court.
The palace is incredible – the Hall of Mirrors is the highlight of the visit – and so are the gardens. It’s huge, so it’s probably better to join a guided tour to make sense of all there is to see.
These are the best guided tours of Versailles:
- Ultimate Versailles guided tour
- Versailles palace and gardens full access ticket
- Versailles palace and gardens full access with audio-guide
- Closing Time at Versailles: Small Group Versailles Tour After the Crowds with Gardens or Fountains Show
- Versailles palace all areas entrance (Passport)
- Versailles palace access all areas and fountain musical show
Disneyland is one of the most popular places to visit in Paris and makes for an excellent day trip out of town (it’s only 30 km from downtown), especially if you have kids. This massive park is divided into two – Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. For an adrenaline filled experience, make sure to ride the Rock’n’Roller Coaster Aerosmith – it’s the fastest ride in the park.
If you want to get tickets in advance, the following are good options:
- Disneyland Paris 1 day ticket – a day pass to either Disneyland Park or Walt Disney Studios Park.
- Disneyland Paris 1 day flexible ticket – slightly more expensive but perfect if you require flexibility.
- Disneyland Paris 1 day ticket with transportation – if you want to avoid using public transportation, you need to opt for this one.
Other Useful Tips To Plan Your Trip To Paris
Where to stay in Paris
There is an incredible range of accommodation options in Paris, and you will easily find something that suits your needs, interests and budget. I will soon be writing a full guide on where to stay in Paris, with the best neighborhoods and accommodation options in each of them. In general I recommend staying somewhere close to a metro station for ease of movement. Meantime, here is a quick selection of excellent places to stay:
- La Chambre du Marais is located close to Pompidou center. Much like in the rest of Paris, rooms aren’t big but they are cozy, beautifully decorated and comfortable. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Hotel Montecristo offers plush rooms decorated in a beautiful vintage style, a pool and it even has a restaurant. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Young and Happy Latin Quarter by Hiphophostels is a good budget option. Dorms are plain but well equipped. Breakfast is an extra. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
When to visit Paris
Any time is a good time to visit Paris! Some may suggest that it’s too cold to visit in the winter; others claim that it may be too hot in the summer (though it only gets truly hot when it’s under a heat wave). I have been there in October and loved the early fall atmosphere, the colors and the light.
How to get to Paris
Paris is very well connected to the rest of Europe and the world by train and via two easy to get airports.
The main one is Charles de Gaulle, which is connected to the center of town by train, bus, shuttle van and taxi. It takes between 30 minutes (by train) to up to one and a half hour (depending on traffic) to reach the city center from the airport.
Beauvais airport is served by budget airlines and is connected to Paris city center by bus. It takes about 75 minutes to get there.
I will soon be writing a more complete guide on how to get from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris City Center.
How to move around Paris
Public transportation in Paris works really well and tourists can count on a great web of buses and the metro. The metro is probably the fastest way to get from one place to the other. A one way ticket costs €1.90 and you can get it at the metro station.
You may also want to get a hop on hop off bus ticket to move around. They have 1, 2 or 3 day options. You can get it here.
Other useful information
I recommend taking a good guide book with you, as it’ll have at least some basic information about the places to visit in Paris you want to go to, and a map, as well as mention good restaurants and even bars.
These are some good guide books you may want to read and take with you:
Finally, I always recommend getting a good travel insurance, no matter where you travel to and for how long. Make sure to read my post “Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Get a good travel insurance here.
Further readings about Paris and other cities in France
- A Guide To The 5 Best Cities To Visit In France
- 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
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Paris In A Day
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- How To Avoid The Most Common Paris Scams