A Paris in a day itinerary, with the most important landmarks and things to see in a day in the French capital.
I have compiled and created the best route with top tips for you so that you can experience a self-guided sightseeing tour, with the most important monuments and landmarks included.
Table of Contents
Do you have a day to visit and see Paris? No problem, I have got you covered with the most significant highlights that Paris has to offer!
I can relate because the first time I visited, we did Paris in one day. Paris has been in our heart, and we have come on and off, during various seasons and periods. During that time, I was able to gather a more in-depth understanding of the charming French capital.
In this guide, I will share the must-see best places and tourist attractions so that you can prioritize and enjoy the best that the city of lights has to offer!
I also cover the average cost per person, the best way to get around, ways to get there and a recommended day itinerary, and share a map as a visual help.
Note: This guide was first published on the 6th of August 2014 at masalaherb.com and has been updated and enhanced ever since.
🗺️ What to see in Paris in a day?
These are the main landmarks and places that I highly recommend for your trip to Paris! I’ll explain what each place has to offer and what to expect there.
1. Montmartre – Artist Quarters
Montmartre is the famous district in Paris known as the artist’s quarter. Most of it is on a hill and at the top of the hill sits the Sacré-Cœur de Paris Basilica (Sacred Heart Basilica).
The Parisian soul is most alive in Montmartre and that’s for a good reason. Painters paint on the streets, street artists from all over the world converge here to entertain us and the Bohemian timeless vibe will enthrall you in this village-like setting.
Many renowned artists used to hang out there or called Montmartre their home, including Picasso, Dali, and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Take a stroll through the rue Lepic and rue Norvins for the most photo-perfect memories of Montmartre. Look out for the Je t’aime wall, where you can add your “I love you” declaration to the lot on the wall.
Don’t forget to visit the stunning interiors of the roman catholic sacred heart Basilica and to take in the view from the top of the hill. From the overlook you can see the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower.
Another famous place is located in Montmartre, the Moulin Rouge. Burlesque style, 19th century shows are still held in the Moulin Rouge today and tickets for the music and dance cabaret can be purchased online!
Cost: Free to stroll around and to access the Basilica.
2. The Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral de Paris is the cities most recognizable landmark, especially since that disastrous fire on the 19th April 2019.
The medieval spire collapsed, the roof burned down, and the walls were severely damaged in this colossal fire. Originally completed in 1260, this medieval Catholic Church had survived over the ages scattered, up to 2019.
Incidentally, the roof and spire are in the process of being restored to their original glory, yet the process is long and restoration constructions will most probably be completed in spring 2024.
Old medieval know-how has been used by skilled workers from all over the world and France to get the cathedral back in to its authentic look.
So, while you most likely won’t be able to see the cathedral interiors, you can at least take a look at it from the outside to snap a picture or two as well.
Cost: Free because the cathedral indoor area isn’t accessible yet.
3. Latin Quarters
The Latin quarters are where all the students and intellectuals used to live. The world-famous Sorbonne university and other educational institutions are just located a few minutes walking distance from the Latin quarter.
The name came to be because intellectuals used Latin as a main language for their studies.
Today, this area, with the neighboring Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarters, is known as the core of the city, and you will want to take a stroll through the tight passageways to take in some Parisian feeling.
Here you will also come across small food bistros and restaurants. Therefore, I recommend having lunch in this area. You can choose between French restaurants or international food joints, such as Greek, Lebanese, Moroccan, to just name a few.
Enjoy the atmosphere in the Latin quarters or pick up some food and head to the Luxembourg gardens (15 mins walk) and have a picnic in one of the most beautiful gardens in France.
Cost: Free walking around, but you may spend on a meal.
4. Seine River Walk
A small relaxed river stroll to get away from the tourist masses and to see the city from another perspective is my next recommendation.
The Seine river is located next to the Latin quarter, and it’s a little known local secret hangout place. On the maps it is described as Promenade René Capitant. The promenade can be accessed via staircases located at the side of all bridges.
Step down and a lower pathway will emerge and reveal another face of Paris. Walk along the Seine towards the Pont Neuf bridge or to the next bridge, the Pont des Art. Cross the bridge, and you will find yourself on the other side of the Seine river near other main attractions.
If you pick the Pont Neuf bridge, you will be close to the historic Samaritaine 60s style upscale luxury shopping mall. A visit here is well worth it for the decoration alone.
The Pont des Art takes you directly to the Louvre pyramid and palace, another major must-see landmark.
The Louvre is a royal palace turned art museum. In fact, it’s the largest art museum in the world, and you will need more than one day to see all the museum pieces.
Once upon a time, the palais du louvre was the ruling royal palace for the French kings. After the French Revolution, it was changed into a museum and opened its doors to the public in 1793.
Mostly confiscated religious and royal art pieces were displayed at the time. Yet, it has vastly gained in size over the last 230 years and its popularity has never been better.
You will find masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Davinci and the antique Greek Venus de Milo statue by Alexandros of Antioch in the Louvre.
When you get to the Louvre area, you will marvel at the architecture style of the old palace complex, and you will also see the world-renowned glass pyramid. Most of the museum is all underground and the pyramid is the entry point.
Nonetheless, this is a major landmark, and you will want to make a stop here to complete your Paris trip.
6. Tuileries Gardens and Place de la Concorde
Adjoining to the Louvre are the symmetrical, well manicured 17th century Tuileries gardens.
These royal gardens are a welcoming change to the city landscape and an inspiring moment may come over you at the sight of the fountains and statues. You will also find a cafe or two and bistros in the jardin des tuileries.
A fun fair is held in the green park with ferries wheel and other rides in the summer months and for Christmas in December and Carnival they have rides set up as well.
I recommend a walk across the Tuileries Gardens, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cross. On the other end awaits another important landmark of Paris, the Place de la Concorde.
The center of the Place de la Concorde is marked with the tall Egyptian Obelisk of Luxor, which is surrounded by fountains and statues.
Scenes of execution remind the world that the Place de la Concorde was used as a public execution square during the French Revolution.
Cost: Free, except if you have a drink at a bistro or if you want to spend on some rides.
7. Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe
The Champs-Élysées starts where the Place de la Concorde ends. This super wide avenue is one of the world’s most well – known commercial streets.
All the major designer houses and brands have a store in the Champs-Élysées and the end of the Champs-Élysées leads to the Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe is another major Parisian landmark that you shouldn’t miss. The triumphal arch monument was built in honor of Napoleon and his conquests. You can get a rooftop ticket to the Arc de Triomphe.
You can choose to walk all the way from the Place de la Concorde along the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe or you can take the metro. The 1.2 mile (1.93 kilometers) long road is straight-forward, and you will take about 30 minutes to cross it all.
For the metro, take line 1 from la Place de la Concorde and get out after 4 stops at the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile metro station, situated right next to the Arc de Triomphe. A subway ride takes about 10 minutes.
In my experience, the Champs-Élysées is rather long and cumbersome, and if you are tired of walking, just take the metro. The most important stores are situated near the Arc de Triomphe anyway.
Furthermore, the iconic Galeries Lafayette, Chanel, and Gucci store are situated near the Franklin D. Roosevelt subway station.
The grandest of all is the Maison de Louis Vuitton at the George V subway station. The queue there is just incredibly long, so be prepared to wait at least 30 minutes if you want to get in during the off season.
Cost: Free to stroll around, except if you go shopping or if you want to visit the Arc de Triomphe rooftop.
8. Eiffel Tower
A visit to Paris has to include the Eiffel Tower! You can make that happen together with all the other sights mentioned earlier.
Start out at the Trocadéro observation square. This is where everyone takes selfies of the Eiffel Tower. I then recommend walking towards the Eiffel Tower for more fantastic photoshoots.
The best time to experience the Eiffel Tower is during sunset and when the darkness of night falls over the busy city of lights.
La Tour Eiffel, as it is lovingly called by the French, is lit during the night, but that’s not why everyone wants to see the Eiffel Tower at night.
Every hour, a special enchanting 5 minute long sparkle show lightens up the Eiffel Tower to a whole new level. The first one starts at nightfall and the last is at 1 am. So, if it gets dark at 7:30 pm, you’ll have the first sparkles at 8 pm.
Don’t miss the magical sparkling Eiffel Tower moment! There is one at 8 pm, 9 pm, 10 pm, 11 pm, 12 am and 1 am.
Tip: You can get to the Eiffel Tower’s second floor or to the summit, but book an Eiffel Tower ticket in advance and plan at least 1–2 hours for this activity.
Cost: Free as long as you don’t take the lift up the Eiffel tower.
9. Seine River Cruise (Optional Extra)
To finish the day, I recommend booking a Seine river cruise, but this is very optional.
You will find a port just below the Eiffel Tower, but the main original one is located at the Port de la Conférence.
The authentic large open excursion boats are called Bateau-Mouches and a ride across the Seine river will help you to see the city from another perspective. You will be able to see more monuments this way.
A regular cruise usually takes about 1 hour, but you can book a seat on a longer dinner cruise too, where they offer a 3-course dinner cruise experience with a Paris view.
The simple Seine River Cruise experience costs about EUR 15 per person and brief explanation of sites along the way are given in French, English, and Spanish.
Most are double-decker boats, so getting a seat on the higher decks is advisable to make the most of your experience, especially during dusk.
Cost: EUR 15 per adult.
📜 Recommended Paris Day Itinerary
This one day Paris itinerary will get you to all the major must-see places in Paris within a day. I also share how to get around between each landmark.
It’s a self guided tour of the city, which starts at Montmartre and ends at the Eiffel Tower.
I recommend starting out at around 9 am to make the most of your one day in Paris trip!
Travel to Montmartre. The closest train station is the Gars du Nord, which is a 20-minute upwards walk to Montmartre or take the Metro line 4, and get out at Château Rouge within 10 minutes. Here is a video walking tour from Gars du Nord to Montmartre.
Discover Montmartre – visiting the Basilica, enjoying the view and taking a stroll through the neighborhood down the hill to the Moulin Rouge. Estimate Time spent there 1–2 hours.
Travel via metro from the Montmatre hill to the city center to the Notre Dame cathedral. Take metro line 2 via Blanche Pigalle or Anvers station, and switch to metro line 4 at the Barbès – Rochechouart Metro station. Get out at the station called Notre Dame. The subway ride takes about 25 minutes.
The Notre Dame cathedral is still currently closed, but they have plans to reopen the inner sanctums to visitors in spring 2024. You can see and take pictures of France’s most iconic cathedral from outside. Estimated time spent here 10 mins.
Walk from Notre Dame to the adjoining Latin Quarter (5 minutes distance) to grab lunch there. Estimated time: 30-60 minutes.
After lunch, take a relaxed walk along the Seine river. Walk all the way to the Louvre. You can choose to cross the river at the Pont Neuf bridge to make a quick stop at the Samaritaine shopping mall, or the Pont des Arts bridge to get directly to the Louvre square and palace. The walk takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
Spend some time taking pictures and enjoy the Louvre square with the Louvre Museum pyramid and palais royal. You won’t have time to visit the Louvre Museum, I recommend dedicating a whole day to the vast collection that the Louvre has to offer. Enjoy 10 to 30 minutes at the Louvre.
Continue your walk to the adjoining Tuileries gardens. Walk across the gardens towards the Place de la Concorde where the hard-to-miss Obelisk is located. I recommend spending some time in the beautiful gardens, such as 30 minutes. Walking from the Louvre across the gardens to the Obelisk takes about 20 minutes.
The Obelisk at the massive Place de la Concorde is a pretty sight, and we did spend on average 5 to 10 minutes there every time we visited.
Cross the road from the Obelisk and walk straight. You are now in the world-famous Champs-Élysées and all major brands and upscale luxury designer stores can be found on this road.
At the end of the road is the Arc de Triomphe, another important photo-worthy landmark. A walk down the Champs-Élysées, from the Obelisk to the Arc de Triomphe, takes about 30 minutes. You can easily cut it short to 10 minutes by taking metro line 1 at the Place de la Concorde to travel to the Arc de Triomphe, and getting out after 4 stations at the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile subway station. You can expect to spend about 10 minutes at the Arc de Triomphe.
Late Afternoon or Evening
Travel towards the Eiffel Tower. If you are at the Arc de Triomphe, take the metro line 6 direction Nation, at the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile Metro station and travel three stops to Trocadéro. Get out at the Trocadéro.
Spend some time at the Trocadéro square because you will get the most iconic views from here of the Eiffel Tower, especially during sunset time. We typically stick around 20 minutes here. You can choose to take a break in a café and enjoy some french pastries to replenish your battery.
Walk from the Trocadéro downwards to the Eiffel Tower, through the Trocadéro gardens. This can take about 20 minutes or more. Enjoy your time looking or taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower or take a break in the Champ de Mars gardens behind the Eiffel Tower.
At the Eiffel Tower, take the stairs downwards to the Seine river (next to the kids Carousel). Here you will find the Seine River Cruises OR go to the authentic Bateau Mouche docks near the Eiffel Tower.
A river cruise can take between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the cruise that you select to take. Some offer a dinner experience where you can get to know Parisian cuisine.
You will be back from the cruise at the same quay below the Eiffel Tower, just on time for the hourly glitter show. It’s always at 7 pm, 8 pm, 9pm and 10 pm and runs for about 5 minutes.
Now is a good time to do some photo shoots with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop to finish a beautiful day in Paris.
💸 Expected Cost for a Day in Paris
As with everything else, spending habits can vary across the board. Paris is an expensive city, no doubt, but it all depends on your choices and trip expectations.
I have put together a cost of things per person table for Tourist areas in Paris below. Each is just an average, and you might come across cheaper and much more expensive luxury establishments, but that’s the base for 2023.
Furthermore, peak seasonal rates (July, August, December, January) for hotel rooms can be much higher.
Please keep in mind that I have added the cost per attraction to each place of interest much further below.
Tip: Lower your budget and move out from the typical tourist places.
|Full Meal (including drink and dessert)||EUR 30.00|
|Wine (250 ml)||EUR 8.00-9.00|
|Beer (small)||EUR 6.00|
|Non-Alcoholic Drink||EUR 4.50|
|Drink (i.e Kir Royal, Aperol Spritz)||EUR 9.00|
|Public Restroom||EUR 1.00|
|3-Star Hotel||EUR 150.00|
|Vacation Rentals||EUR 200.00-500.00|
|Taxi minimum fee||EUR 7.30|
|Taxi starting fare||EUR 2.30|
|Public Transport 24 hour Ticket for Paris||EUR 13.55|
Wondering where to stay in Paris? Find the right area in Paris with the help of my blogger friend’s useful guide!
🚎 Getting around in One Day
To see most monuments and attractions, you will mostly walk around. To expand your reach and get to the Eiffel Tower or Montmartre, you will have to get around via public transport to make the most of your day.
The Paris public transport consists of:
- Subway (Metro) – Best to move between major sites
- Tram – Second-best option to move around
- Bus – Great connections to lesser known quarters of the city
- RER (Réseau Express Régional) – Connects the city center with the suburbs. You will need to take the RER if you come from the airport.
Get the Paris Visite travel card, which is a ticket to use all the main public transport options for Paris.
A Paris visite travel card can be customized. Get a 1, 2, 3, or 5-day ticket for Zone 1-3 or Zone 1-5. The price gets adjusted to your needs.
Zone 1-3: Applies to the city center where you will find most sites, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, Montmantre with the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Eiffel Tower.
Zone 1-5: Extends to the Parisian suburbs. You require this ticket if you want to go to Disneyland, Versailles palace or if you are coming from Paris CDG airport or Paris Orly airport.
Example: A 24-hour ticket for Zone 1-3 is priced at 13.55 per adult and 6.75 per child.
Cautious Note: We always traveled conveniently by the metro (subway) and if you intend to do the same, which I suggest, take care of your belongings because of thieves.
🛬 Traveling to Paris in a Nutshell
On a one-day trip to Paris, you can choose to get there by train, flight, car, or bus.
The SNCF is run by the French national train network. You will only need this if you are traveling from another French city or neighboring Belgium, via regional train or TGV.
Paris is just a 3-hour short train ride away from London on the Eurostar train connection. The Eurostar stops at the Gars du Nord, which is in Zone 1-3.
Three major train stations are of interest to Paris visitors.
- Gare du Nord – Station located in the north. Trains coming from Belgium, Northern France and the UK stop here.
- Gare de l’Est – All major trains traveling from eastern France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland to Paris halt in the Eastern train station. The Gare de l’Est station is located next to the Gare du Nord station, it’s a 5-minute walk.
- Gare de Lyon – Station located in the 12em arrondissement district in Paris. Trains coming from southern and central France, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland stop here. You can get from this train station to Disneyland Paris.
Paris has two international airports, Paris CDG and Paris Orly.
Paris CDG (Paris Charles de Gaulle airport) is located to the North East of the city, and it’s the bigger and more important airport of the two. Most international flights from all over the world, land here.
Paris Orly is located to the south of the city and serves mainly European metros such as Lisbon, Rome, and Venice. You will find mostly budget airlines from Europe such as Easyjet and TAP landing in Orly, but also AirFrance.
I think traveling by car to Paris is not the best approach if you intend to stay for just one day. Especially because Paris, like most major French cities, follows the Crit Air vignette Pollution sticker system.
The most environmentally damaging vehicles are banned from entering Paris and the city has set up zones, which can be confusing to visitors in this busy traffic city. Driving in Paris is also beyond exhausting!
Most accommodations do not offer parking and if they do, they may charge you an extra EUR 20 per day for your car.
We travel by car towards Paris but park it in the suburbs for the day. From here we take a RER train ride to the city center. This is the most budget-friendly and easiest way to get to Paris by car, but it’s also not straightforward.
Many pay parking lots in the Parisian suburbs are poorly maintained, dirty, and it can be a risk to park in those neighborhoods.
The better option is to get by bus to Paris. Flixbus and Blablabus offer a great, on time, budget-friendly, save bus experience from all major cities and towns in Europe to Paris.
Can you walk around Paris in a day?
Yes, absolutely but make sure to bring good comfortable footwear. We tend to walk about 20000 steps on a single day! Paris is a save city and walking around between monuments and areas is much recommended.