Editor’s Note (Updated October 2021): This guide to some of the best things to do in Paris is part of our ongoing itinerary series. Discover some of the most authentic experiences and things to do in various countries and cities around the world.
Known as the city of light and the city of love, Paris, France is equally filled with both. The city is world-famous for its delectable gourmet cuisine, magnificent tree-lined boulevards, an eclectic art and cultural scene and of course, French wine. The beauty and ambiance of the French capital makes for an unforgettable getaway, especially since there’s so much to see and do. Imagine strolling along the Seine, people-watching at a Parisian cafe, discovering one-of-a-kind finds at elegant, French boutiques and beyond! Here are some of the top activities you have to do in Paris.
Travel Logistics: Getting To and Around Paris
Many airlines fly nonstop between several US cities and Paris like Delta, Air France and American. You can get updates as flight deals become available here for your travel dates. Once in Paris, the Metro System is easy to navigate and affordable, with 16 different lines and over 300 stations. For those who’d prefer a pickup, taxis and Uber vehicles are readily available. Take a look at some of these beautiful hotel options in and around the heart of Paris.
It doesn’t matter what you eat or drink (although we advise coffee and macarons for those with a sweet tooth and duck confit and vin rouge for savory eaters), just make sure to do it while seated outdoors at a delightful Parisian cafe. Moreover, ensure your chairs are facing the sidewalk, a quintessential sign you’re in Paris. You might be squished in between other clientele, but this is the only way you can enjoy your glass of rosé and pomme frites like a true Parisan.
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Admire All the Art
When asked about art in Paris, most people immediately think of the Louvre. While this is an exceptional museum that you could, in fact, spend weeks in, Paris has so many other wonderful places to see art. Impressionist fans will love the Musée d’Orsay, housed in what was once a former train station, the Gare d’Orsay. The gardens and sculptures at the Musée Rodin are especially stunning in the afternoon spring light. Modern enthusiasts will love the unique infrastructure at the Centre Pompidou. Plus, walking around to see some of the magnificent architecture and creative street art is a contemporary way to add some culture to your trip.
View the Eiffel Tower
No list of Paris activities would be complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Of course, getting up close or going up in the Eiffel is a very touristy activity, and if you plan to do so, get there early and buy any tickets ahead of time to avoid lines. But we recommend seeing it from up above as an alternative — like from the top of the Arc de Triomphe or the from the Panoramic Observation Floor of Montparnasse Tower. Gazing at the glittering Paris skyline complete with this famous metal structure is an unforgettable moment.
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Visit All the Famous Sites
You can’t skip out on the most famous monuments in Paris, so make it a point to see the Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately, the famous medieval cathedral Notre-Dame was recently struck by fire and remains closed for repairs, but be sure to see the Sacré-Cœur basilica, the Panthéon and of course, the famous street Champs-Élysées. See our next point for how to see all these spots in just a few hours.
Ride on Two Wheels
While wandering the Parisian streets is a lovely way to explore, Paris and its 20 arrondissements cover quite a bit of ground. If you want to see a good portion of it, rent a bike or even better, do a bike tour. Fat Tire is a reputable tour company with expert guides offering both day and night cycling tours.
Dress Like a Parisian
Obviously, you’re going to want to come home looking more fashionable than before you left. Paris is one of the most stylish cities in the world, and if you want to shop the big brands, then head to Champs-Élysées or Rue de Commerce. For more boutique, one-of-a-kind finds, wander along Rue de Charonne. Vintage hunters should stop into the many thrift and vintage shops located throughout Le Marais.
Explore the Seine
Walking along France’s second-largest river is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Then, take a dinner or drinks cruise along the waterway to see the sparkling lights of Paris by night. Crossing the many bridges over the Seine proves that Paris really is the city of love, as thousands of locks hang on the sides of the bridge.
Take a Break From the City
We all need to escape the busy city sometimes. Consider a day trip to a spot like Palace of Versailles, the Gardens of Giverny or go to Champagne to drink, you guessed it…champagne! A day in the French countryside will give you a feel of the real France, and not just the big city.
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Get in Some Green
If you don’t have time for a day trip, you can still explore some of the green spaces in Paris for a nature break. A picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens gives you the best of green grass, snacks and wine. Taking a break to see the Tuileries Gardens or the Jardins du Trocadéro (with Eiffel Tower views) allow you to see some trees and flowers while right in the middle of the city.
More To Do in and Around Paris
If the above options aren’t enough for you, we’ve included a number of tours and experiences below that you can book right now during your next visit to Paris. Let us know your favorite activities or recommendations in the comment section below!
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