Last Updated on July 11, 2023
Not sure you can see the best of Paris in only a couple of days? Don’t fret: I am here to help you maximize your time in Paris! Whether you spend as short as a day (yes, there is such a thing as a Paris in a day tour) or as long as a month, you can see all the famous sights of one of the most popular and romantic cities on the globe. Read on for the must see attractions in Paris, and the perfect 1-day Paris itinerary.
The Must See Attractions in Paris
This itinerary will help you visit the major attractions in Paris without feeling overwhelmed. If you’re going to stay in Paris a little longer, don’t rush around the city – take your time and see Paris off the beaten path, too.
To make this Paris itinerary extra special, I’ve tailored it to suit the taste and finesses of any woman who wants to savor the finest of Paris. I recommend getting the Paris Pass when you arrive – this pass will give you access to over 60 popular landmark attractions in Paris, river cruise and even a public transport card, and buying the pass is much cheaper than paying for each attraction individually. You can choose if you’d like to buy the pass for 2 days, 4 days or 6 days.
So, let’s jump right into it!
The Must-See Attractions in Paris
Stop #1: The Eiffel Tower
Why not start the tour of Paris strong with one of the most visited sights in Paris – the Eiffel Tower?
This wrought iron structure was named after the engineer who designed this masterpiece, Gustave Eiffel. The tower overlooks the beautiful Champ de Mars Park where you can witness marriage proposals as well as declarations of undying love pretty much every day.
You can enjoy the view of the tower from the Trocadero Gardens or the Tracodero Square located across the Seine River. Another popular way to take in Paris’ most famous landmark: you can have a lovely picnic at Champ de Mars gardens while you gaze at the Eiffel Tower’s beauty. You can also check out the view of Paris from one of the floors inside the Eiffel Tower, giving you a stunning panoramic view of the City of Love.
Note: You can buy tickets to visit the summit of the tower or just the second floor. Be aware that the views from the top of the tower are much better, but the tickets to visit just the second floor are cheaper. Check out two options here:
Stop #2: Seine River
A Seine River cruise will give you an fantastic view of Paris from a unique angle. The best part of it all is that you get to see most of the iconic landmarks from the boat – without having to walk a single step.
Some of the sights you get to capture a glimpse of are the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Pont Neuf, Musée d’Orsay and Le Louvre. Going on a Seine River cruise after viewing the Eiffel Tower makes sense because the cruise ships depart near the Tower.
The tour of Paris on the Seine River is especially magical at night. So, whether you do the cruise in the day or at night you’re guaranteed to have a memorable experience. Have your camera ready!
Tip: You can save money with a combined tour of the Eiffel Tower and a Seine Cruise!
Stop #3: Le Louvre
You must have already spotted the glass pyramid from the Seine River. Le Louvre is one of the most famous museums in the entire world – naturally, this is a must on your Paris itinerary. It’s home to some of the most famous artwork on the planet, like Venus de Milo and of course the Mona Lisa.
If you’re not in a rush, take your time at the Louvre. The feeling of being in the midst of so much history and such magnificent art is incredible. If you don’t have much time in Paris, make sure to book your tickets in advance – the lines can get quite long, and you don’t want to waste hours waiting in a queue for tickets.
Tip: If you have the Paris Pass, it includes a Skip-The-Line ticket for the Louvre. If you don’t have the Paris Pass, you can book a Skip The Line ticket here. If you’re planning on staying a little longer in Paris, you can spend an entire day in the Louvre – it is a large museum that takes time to fully explore.
Stop #4: Arc de Triomphe
From the Louvre, head over to the Arc de Triomphe. Not only will you walk past the gorgeous Tuilleres Gardens, but walking to the Arc will grant you the opportunity to do some shopping at the Champs Elysees before you get to the Arc de Triomphe. There you can shop for beautiful souvenirs and gifts to bring home, and window shop at the luxury brands.
The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon and was the largest triumphal arch in the entire world for the longest time (North Korea built a bigger one in 1982). The monument commemorates those who died during the French revolution and celebrates its victories. You can read the names of noteworthy successes during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods at the top of the arch. Underneath the Arc de Triomphe is the “Tomb of the unknown soldier” – a soldier who lost his life during World War I.
There are sculptures skillfully etched in the walls of the Arc – take a moment to wander around the arch and take in the fresco, writings and . If you want another view of Paris (with the Eiffel Tower in your picture), you enjoy fantastic views from the top of the monument. However, you will have to climb about 280 stairs to the top. I say the views are worth the climb and the admission (€13). Reserve your time slot for the Arc De Triomphe rooftop here.
Stop #5: Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral is another of Paris’ world famous monuments. You’ll be enthralled by the detail of architecture, the elegance of the stained-glass windows and the vastness of it all. Sadly, the cathedral can’t be visited anymore after a devastating fire destroyed part of it in April 2019 (and it’ll be closed for at least another five to six years), but just the very sight of Notre Dame will have you in awe.
Stop #6: Musée d’Orsay
You might think that seeing one museum is enough, but if you love art, you cannot miss this museum – and at less than US$20, it’s a steal! The museum is not too far from Notre Dame (about thirty mins), so you can even walk there – it’s a lovely walk along the Seine River. The Musée d’Orsay is a masterpiece on its own – a Beau-Art building which used to be a railway station. You can see the work of some of the most celebrated painters in the world here: Monet, Renoir, Manet, Toulouse-Latrec, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Seurat, Gauguin, and Sisley. The Musée d’Orsay is one of the largest art museums in Europe, home to paintings, sculptures, photography and more, so plan in some time here.
Note: Paris Pass holders can skip the line here. If you don’t have the Paris Pass, you can reserve a time slot here. If you’re on a budget, check out this combined museum ticket & Seine cruise offer (US$33).
Stop #7: Versailles
Any Paris itinerary would be incomplete without a trip to Versailles, about 40 mins from central Paris by train. Even though technically not part of the city, Versailles is a must see attraction in Paris.
Versailles is a breathtaking palace and as you walk through it, you won’t be able to stop yourself from picturing how it would have been to live here as a royal in the 17th century.
The large halls, intricate paintings and sculptures, plus all the incredible fittings will make you wish you could move into to this opulent palace. The vast and lush gardens, which took forty years to complete, are just wonderful to behold. By the way: Versailles is included in the Paris Pass, which also includes a travel card for public transportation.
How to visit Versailles: There are a number of ways to visit Versailles, but whatever option you go for, plan a whole day for Versailles – it’s impossible to rush through the vast palace and gardens in half a day, and remember that this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so make the most of it.
You can visit Versailles either independently from Paris, or you can sign up for a guided tour. There are guided tours that start in Paris, and there are also guided tours that begin in Versailles.
Visit independently: Take the RER C train to the Versailles – Rive Gauche station. From there, it’s a quick 5-10 min walk the palace. Look up on Googlemaps how to get to the closest RER station to your accommodation. Tickets are €5 each way, and they include the transfer from the subway to the RER trains, which are regional trains that connect central Paris with the surrounding suburbs. Make sure to buy your ticket for Versailles before you get there to avoid standing in line. You’ll want to get the Versailles Passport ticket, which costs €28.50 and includes the Palace, the Estate of Trianon and the gardens.
Guided tours of Versailles: There are dozens of tour operators offering tours of Versailles – with and without the gardens, on bikes, from Paris or starting directly at the palace. Here are some of the top-rated Versailles tours:
- Skip-the-Line Versailles Palace Tour by Train from Paris (around US$99, half day) From Paris: Skip-the-Line Palace of Versailles Bike Tour (US$159; 8 hours)
- Versailles Bike Tour with Palace & Queen Farm Entrance (US$120; 8 hours)
- Versailles: Skip-the-Line Tour of Palace with Gardens Access (US$78; 1.5-2 hours)
Note: The palace is closed on Tuesdays!
Stop #8: Department stores on Boulevard Haussmann
Your Paris itinerary wouldn’t be complete without doing a bit more shopping. Paris is not just known for being romantic. It is also known for being a fashion hub! Which is one of the things that makes Paris great for female travelers.
Boulevard Haussmann is a long beautiful tree-lined boulevard lined that runs all the way from Boulevard Montmartre to Avenue de Friedland near the Champs-Elysées. This boulevard is known for its many department stores as well as some of the most elegant shops in all of Paris – there’s no better place for an afternoon of shopping! Don’t miss the famous Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, a department store where the architecture is almost as interesting as all the things you can buy, and where, from the terrace on the 7th floor, you can enjoy sweeping views over Paris. This is a must-see in Paris, if you ask me.
If you’re a foodie, don’t miss the Galeries Lafayette Le Gourmet, the fabulous food hall that is part of the department store, right across the street from the main store. There are several chocolatiers there, a swanky eclair place, and if you just want to try an array of baked goods & pastries, find Meunier Bakery.
Printemps, just a few doors down from Galeries Lafayettes, is another department store that’s worth a visit – for the stunning building alone! This department store also has a rooftop terrace, which is a perfect place to take a breather from all the shopping.