If you’re planning a trip to Paris, how do you decide what to do? There are the places people dream of when they first visit Paris, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but there are also neighborhoods to explore and taste new food. This Paris bucket list contains 45 of the best experiences you can have in Paris. Don’t expect to see them all on your first trip to Paris, we didn’t do it either. If you’re like us, Paris is the kind of city you want to visit again. We’ve been to Paris three times and it just keeps getting better.
At the end of this post, read our recommendations for the best things to do in Paris. If you have little time in the city, this will help you narrow down this huge list of sights.
Paris Bucket List
Undoubtedly, the Eiffel Tower one of the most famous landmarks of Paris. For many people it’s exciting to see the Eiffel Tower for the first time. And for beginners, a visit to Paris would not be complete without a trip to the Eiffel Tower.
Pro Travel Tip: The line that visits the Eiffel Tower can be epic (we are talking about a waiting time of 2 to 3 hours). To avoid this nightmare, book your tickets in advance. How far is it in advance? Once you know your travel dates. I’ve heard recent reports that tickets are now sold out 1 to 2 months in advance.
If tickets for your travel dates are sold out, you can book a tour to skip the queue to the Eiffel Tower. Here are three highly rated tours that allow you to skip the queue at the Eiffel Tower.
The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world. This building was once the home of French kings, including Louis XIV. During the French Revolution of the 18th century, the Louvre became a museum.
The Louvre is huge and you could literally spend days here. However, you can see the highlights (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory) in just one or two hours.
How do you skip the line in the Louvre: There are several ways to avoid waiting in a long queue to get to the Louvre.
- Buy the museum pass. This allows you to skip the ticket queue, but you may still have to wait in a much shorter security line.
- Book your tickets online in advance. You can buy your tickets in advance on the official Louvre website. These cost €17 and the site advertises less than 30 minutes of waiting time, if you buy your tickets in advance.
- Take a tour. There are many skip-the-line tours, such as this scheduled ticket or this 3-hour tour, where you will visit the highlights of the museum.
- Go first in the morning or on Wednesdays and Friday evenings when the Louvre Museum is open until 21:45.
Walk along the Champs-Elysees
Touristy? “Yes. But still, it’s a must. This is one of the most famous streets in the world, which leads from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Come on the way to Laduree for macarons, another one has to do it while you are in Paris.
The Arc de Triomphe sits at the top of the Champs-Elysees. From the top of Arc you have one of the best views of Paris. Take a look down the Champs-Elysees in the Louvre, to La Defense and across the rooftops to the Eiffel Tower. At night you can see Paris (and the Eiffel Tower) sparkle… quite a sight.
Pro Travel Tip: Download the Arc de Triomphe app before you get started. This app will give you interesting facts about the Arc de Triomphe and will help you identify buildings that you have on the terrace
Costs: 13€, included in the Paris Museum Pass
Ile de la Cite
Ile de la Cite is the small island in central Paris, where Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame live. It’s the historic heart of Paris.
In front of Notre Dame is a memorial plaque on the floor that marks Point Zero (Point Zero des Routes de France), the historic center of Paris.
Also on Ile de la Cite is Au Vieux Paris, one of the most beautiful cafés in Paris.
Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge in Paris. It connects the right bank with the Ile de la Cite. From this bridge, guests can enjoy views of the Seine, the Pont des Arts (the nearest bridge on the river) and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Important note: On April 15, 2019, Notre Dame suffered a devastating fire. The cathedral and towers remain closed until further notice.
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the oldest and greatest cathedrals in the world. Step in to see the nave and stunning stained glass windows, but the highlight of a visit is the view of the Gargoyle from the top of the cathedral over Paris.
Just a short walk from Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, another beautiful cathedral and one of the best stained glass in the world. Sainte Chapelle queues are usually long, but it’s worth waiting.
The Conciergerie can be combined with a visit to Sainte Chapelle, as they sit next to each other. This is the place where Marie Antoinette and others were imprisoned before being taken to Place de la Concorde for execution.
Place de la Concorde
Place de la Concorde is a large roundabout located between the Jardin des Tuileries and the Champs-Elysees. This famous square is full of French history. This was the place during the French Revolution where King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and Robespierre were executed by Guillotine.
View of the Place de la Concorde from the Big Wheel.
The big bike on the Place de la Concorde
From mid-November to early May, a huge Ferris wheel sits on the Place de la Concorde. If the line is short and you want to have a nice view of Paris, you should take a ride.
Versailles is a royal palace on the outskirts of Paris. In 1682, King Louis XIV moved the Royal Courtyard from the Louvre to the Palace of Versailles. This was the seat of government for France for a little over 100 years. This ended in 1789 with the French Revolution. The monarchy moved back to Paris and since then the city of Paris has remained the seat of government for France. During your visit to Versailles, you can visit the castle and stroll through the gardens.
How to get there: Take the RER C from Paris to Versailles. This journey takes approximately 45 minutes. Because Versailles is located outside of the city, your travel map (if you have one) is not valid for this trip. Guests are required to buy a separate round-trip ticket at the metro station to get to and from Versailles. It costs €7.10.This detailed article explains how to get from Paris to Versailles.
Opening Hours:The Palace is closed on Mondays; open at 9 am; The gardens and park are open daily and can be secured free of charge. Costs:Museum Pass:€18 for a visit to the Palace; €20 for the Palace and Gardens The museum pass will cover your stay in the palace, the Trianon and the estate of Marie-Antoinette. It does not cover the musical gardens. You must purchase this ticket separately (and you should do so in advance) for €8.50.
Enjoy the View from a rooftop bar
There are a number of great restaurants and bars with views over the city. Why not watch the sunset while enjoying a fabulous dinner? Among the few are Terass en Haute, Le Perchoir and 43 Up on the Roof.
The Musee d’Orsay is home to the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world. Here you can see Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gaugin and more. It is literally a collection of who is who in the Impressionist art world.
This museum is more than just Impressionist art. The building is also a work of art. Musee d’Orsay was once Gare d’Orsay, an old train station that has been renovated and this art museum.
Musee d’Orsay is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 to 18:00, and on Thursday hours until 21:45. The museum is on Monday closed. Tickets cost €14, free with the museum pass. You can buy a combined ticket at Musee de l’Orangerie for €18. Tickets can be purchased online in advance.
eat street food crepes
Small stalls selling crepes can be found all over Paris. These make delicious, cheap snacks, perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth and taking you sightseeing.
Visit Le Marais
Le Marais is one of the most interesting districts of Paris. Stroll along Rue de Rosiers and if you’re looking for a great place for an affordable meal, visit L’As du Falafel, Le Marais’s most famous falafel restaurant.
This is the largest museum of modern art in Europe. It has an interesting design, whereby all pipelines and pipes on the outside of the museum are coded in vivid colors. It’s definitely a unique sight. This is a big museum and you could hike here for hours. From the top level of the museum you can enjoy another wonderful view of Paris.
Take a food tour
One of the best things to do in Paris is food. And a great way to try some of the best food in Paris is to take a food tour. Sample French bread, wine, cheese and more as a local guide takes you to some of the best places in the city. Secret Food Tours and Paris by Mouth are two of the most popular companies.
Montmartre is one of the most popular districts of Paris. Stroll through the labyrinth of hilly streets, have your portrait drawn at Place du Tertre and have a drink at one of the many cafes that run out into the streets here.
Connected: London Paris 10-Day Itinerary
Watch the sunset from the steps of Sacre-Coeur
The Sacr-Coeur Basilica is located on the highest hill in Paris. Join the crowds on the stairs and watch the sunset. You can also climb the 300 steps to the top of the cathedral for an even better view.
The Wall of Love
The Wall of Love, also called Le Mur des Je T’aime, is a large, blue wall on which the words “I love you” are written in 250 languages. It is free and well worth a short visit if you are in the area. It is right next to the metro station Besses.
If you’re looking for something to do in the evening, do you experience the most famous cabaret in the world? Colourful canned dancers are on stage every evening at the Moulin Rouge. Shows are available at 7pm, 9pm and 11pm. For more information, visit the Moulin Rouge website.
Canal Saint-Martin is a small waterway lined with boutiques and cafés. This area is more popular with locals. So if you’re tired of the crowds of tourists, flee here for a quiet afternoon and dinner in one of the cafes.
Pamper yourself at Angelina
Angelina, located on Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre, is one of the best places for decadent hot chocolate and delicious French pastries. Enjoy!
Pont de l’Archeveche
This bridge connects the Ile de la Cite to the Left Bank. From here you have an iconic view of Notre Dame. Walk along the banks of the Seine and enjoy views of the cathedral and Ile de la Cite.
Go shopping at the Bouquinistes
Stalls with used books, magazines and works of art are set up along the Seine. This tradition of selling used books along the Seine began in the 16th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Luxembourg Gardens
This quiet place is popular in spring and summer, when the weather is nice and the flowers bloom. This is a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Paris.
Seine River Cruise
Cruise for a relaxing experience on the Seine and enjoy the view as the landmarks of Paris pass by. Cruises are offered throughout the day, but for the best experience, go at dusk so you can watch Paris light up around you.
If you are interested in languages, this is a great little museum to visit. With Hands on and interactive exhibits, you will learn everything about world languages.
This is a very different experience from the larger, crowded museums such as the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. Mundolingua is a very small museum and during our visit to a very busy Easter weekend we were the only visitors here. If you are looking for something other than the typical tourist destinations in Paris, you can add this to your list.
It is aimed at all ages, but I think that older children and young adults will benefit the most from visiting here.
Enjoy views from Montparnasse Tower
The Montparnasse Tower’s observation deck offers stunning panoramic views of Paris.
Climb under the streets of Paris and visit the labyrinth of human boned tunnels. In the 18th century, cemeteries around Paris were cleared and the bones were laid down these underground tunnels. This is the final resting place of six million Parisians.
To minimize the time queue in the catacombs: Waiting times can be up to 3 hours to enter the catacombs. Only 200 people are allowed in the catacombs at the same time, so the line moves very slowly.In order not to wait in a very long queue, are there a few things you can do.
- Come here very early. Catacombs open at 10 o’clock in the morning (except on Mondays when they are closed). Come here very early… at least an hour before the opening, and even then you may have to stand in line. We tried this on our last visit and our waiting time was still over an hour.
- Go late. Catacombs are open until 20:30. The least crowded time of day for visiting the catacombs is the last two hours of the day. However, you risk not getting into the catacombs if you are late and you still get a queue.
- Buy a ticket on the Catacombs website. This is your best bet to avoid the lines. You can purchase your ticket online in advance for a specific time slot. You may still need to be in a short series, but this is one of the best ways to avoid a long wait until you get into the catacombs. Online tickets cost €29.
- Join a tour. If all time slots are sold out, consider participating in a tour. You may pay a small additional fee, but it might be worthwhile to save time. Here is a highly rated, non-quexhired tour.
Verdict: To avoid a long wait, I recommend buying a ticket online in advance, to join a tour without queuing or visit very late in the day (and keep your fingers crossed that there is not a long queue).
Paris Museum of Sewers
Here is another unusual tourist attraction and another chance to descend under the streets of Paris. During this visit, you will not only learn about the sewage system, but also about how Paris has grown in recent centuries. Most visits take about an hour, but if you can not stand the smell, your visit can be much faster.
Musée de l’Orangerie
This is a small museum with Impressionist works of art. The highlights of this museum are the eight water lily murals painted by Claude Monet. You can also see art by Picasso, Sisley, Cezanne, Matisse and more.
The museum is open from Wednesday to Monday from 9am to 6pm and is closed on Tuesdays. Tickets cost €6.50, free with the museum pass. A combined ticket with Musee d’Orsay costs €18.
Dine in a sidewalk cafe
This should really be at the top of your list of what you can do in Paris. Cafes run to the city streets all over the city. Self when temperatures are cool, many places operate heaters to keep customers warm. Grab a table and have lunch or a glass of wine, the perfect way to take a break from sightseeing.
Go over Pont Alexandre III
This is the most extravagant bridge in the city. Decorated with nymphs, plates and golden statues, Pont Alexandre III spans the Seine and joins the Grand Palace with Les Invalides. You can spot this bridge in movies including James Bond: A View to Kill and Midnight in Paris.
La Grand Arche at La Defense
Travel to La Defense (leaving the crowds behind) to get a glimpse from the top of the Grande Ark. This view may not have the same “wow factor” as that of the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame Cathedral, but by here most of Paris can spread before you.
Stroll through Saint Germain des Pres
This is another very popular area for strolling. Filled with small alleys, boutiques and a number of very famous cafes, Saint Germain des Pres is an entertaining place to spend an afternoon.
Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company is located on the left bank of Paris and is a small but very famous bookstore.
Shakespeare and Company was founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach in a different location. It was this bookstore that was frequently visited by authors such as Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. This first deal closed in 1941 during the German occupation of France.
In 1951, George Whitman opened a second bookstore, which is also known by famous writers was visited. In 1964, his bookstore was renamed Shakespeare and Company, and this is the left-bank bookstore that people still visit today.
This small museum features sculptures by Rodin. It’s fast and fun to visit it. If you’re traveling with kids, this is a museum they might actually like. Just ask them to pose themselves like the statues.
Guests can eat and drink at Buddha Bar
If you are looking for a very cool dinner/drink point, visit the Buddha Bar, a restaurant on the lower level and lounge areas with views of the restaurant are on the second level. Feels like you left Paris and came to Asia.
Visit the Pantheon
The Dome of the Pantheon is called the “Balcony of Paris” because it offers a 360° view of Paris. Look across the Latin Quarter to Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and Luxembourg Gardens.
The Palais Garnier is the world-famous opera house in Paris. Operas and ballets are performed here and this opera house is the venue for the book and musical “The Phantom of the Opera”. Inside, the opera house is opulent, richly decorated and stunningly beautiful. During your visit, guests can visit the opera house or watch a performance.
Visit Pere Lachaise
The cemetery of Pere Lachaise is one of the most famous and most visited cemeteries in the world. A visit here may sound like a macabre way to spend an afternoon, but a walk among the tombstones and mausoleums can be fascinating to be.
On this short shopping street, you can shop in pastry shops, boulangeries, fromageries (cheese shops) and shops selling wine, fruit and chocolate. When you’re done shopping, you’ll find a nice picnic area on the Champs de Mars and enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower.
Visit Galeries Lafayette
Galeries Lafayette is an upscale French department store. Even if you are not in the mood to go shopping, maybe it’s worth a short visit. It is beautiful inside, with a colorful glass ceiling and artfully decorated balconies.
That’s quite a list, right? If you only have a few days, what are the most important things you should see?
Our top ten in Paris
Here are our top ten activities in Paris.
- Eiffel Tower
- Musée d’Orsay
- The Louvre
- The Arc de Triomphe
- Dine in the sidewalk cafe
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Walk along the Seine
Want to learn how to turn all these pages into an epic trip to Paris? Click here to see our 3-day itinerary in Paris.
View them all on one map
To use this map: Click on the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the map title to add this map to your Google Maps account. To get it on To view your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places”, click Maps, and you’ll see this map in your list.
Were you in Paris? What are your favorite activities? Comment below!
Further information for your trip to France:
- Paris: 10 fun things to do with kids in Paris
- Paris: Best Views of Paris: 15 Brilliant Places to Try
- Paris: Easter in Paris: How to make the best experience
- Paris: Where to stay in Paris: the best hotels and neighborhoods for your budget
- Alsace: 10 fairytale towns on the Alsace Wine Route
- London, Amsterdam & Paris: London, Amsterdam & Paris 10-Day Itinerary
- French Riviera and Provence: 10-day itinerary on the French Riviera and Provence
Planning a trip to France? Read all our articles in our travel guide for France.
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