Let’s be upfront from the beginning: one or two days is nowhere near enough time to relish the beauty of Paris - the world’s romantic capital. Its history, museums, picturesque streets, art, culture, monuments and even language make it one of the best capitals in Europe.
But that’s not to say you can’t enjoy an adventure and activity-filled long weekend in the French capital.
Whether you’re just passing through for the day or want to make the most of a short getaway for two, make sure you pack these sights into your itinerary.
1 Day in Paris | The must-do’s
The Eiffel Tower is the iconic symbol of the French capital. That’s why we simply needed to include it on our list of things to do in Paris on your first day. You can see the Eiffel Tower from most places in Paris, but nothing beats getting up close and personal. If you want to bring your day to a romantic end, we recommend heading to Champ de Mars to enjoy a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower in time for sunset.
While we’re on the topic of iconic Parisian monuments, we’d be remiss not to mention Notre-Dame. Though this world-famous cathedral was recently devastated by a blaze, it’s still one of the most spectacular and historically significant sights in the city.
When the cathedral is operational, admission is free, though you’ll need to pay a small fee to visit certain areas. You should also book your timeslot to climb the tower (once it reopens) well in advance.
That’s your morning covered, but of course, you’ll want somewhere great to stop for lunch. Preferably a liquid one. As you may be aware, the French adore their wine. And you can sample some of the country’s finest at a new wine cellar located right next to the Louvre.
The Caves du Louvre offers a contemporary wine-tasting experience set inside an 18th-century wine cellar. Within the space of an hour, you can learn about grape varieties in France and the wine-making process. You’ll also taste delicious inventions and be given a free bottle to take home.
After lunch, its time to visit one of Europe’s major cultural icons. The Louvre is probably the most famous art gallery in Paris and one of the world’s most-visited museums. Notable treasures inside the Louvre include the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. But there are thousands of exhibitions to browse, showcasing the very best in ancient Greek and Islamic art.
If you spent a little too long at lunch and you're short on time, consider purchasing a Paris Museum Pass, which gives you fast-track entry to the Louvre.
If you have more time | Local experiences
A second day in Paris gives you the chance to explore some of its lesser-known marvels. In our opinion, the 13th-century Saint Chapelle is one of the most underrated religious monuments in the French capital. Beautiful stained-glass windows stretch almost from the floor to the roof, covering all the walls. We recommend arriving at Saint Chapelle for 9am, before queues start to form.
Of course, the Arc de Triomphe has to be on your list, too. An iconic symbol of Paris, it was built in commemoration of the soldiers who lost their lives during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The exterior of this monument is undeniably stunning. The only thing that rivals the sight of the Arc is the view you get by climbing to the top of it.
If you want to observe the French capital’s skyline from above, we highly recommend heading to the Arc de Triomphe. Just remember to use the pedestrian underpass to reach it. Don’t attempt to battle with the traffic that makes the surrounding roundabout rather nightmarish.
From the Arc, you’re in a perfect position to explore the Avenue des Champs-Élysées - one of the cities most prestigious (and most expensive!) streets for food and shopping. Even if you can’t afford a coffee here, it’s worth checking it out just to say you’ve been there.
Paris is one of the most popular stops on our Hop-on-Hop-off coach network. Spend a few days in the city of love before heading on explore everything else that Europe has to offer.