The 25 Best Things to Do in Paris: Paris Bucket List 2023

Paris, Champs-Elysees at night. Car traffic jam on street near Arc de Tripmphe. pollustion concept or stop diesel fuel for the environment. save the planet Earth. France

There are so many things to do in Paris that a day trip simply won’t cut it—you’ll want a week at least to explore the City of Lights and all of its famous monuments, from the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, to the lesser known local neighborhoods where you can spend hours shopping at boutique stores or eating at some of the best restaurants in France.

Paris is a very walkable city, so it’s possible to plan an entire day of sightseeing just on foot, or by bike, using the popular bike share Velib’. But if you do need to go a little farther, the Paris métro is a masterpiece of public transportation. Whenever you hop on the métro, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the iconic “Métropolitan” signs that mark each station, an incredible example of French Art Nouveau architecture.

The 25 Best Things to Do in Paris

1. Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Obviously, the first thing everyone wants to do when they visit Paris is go to the Eiffel Tower, the thousand-foot tall wrought iron structure built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World’s Fair. The most-visited monument in the world, the Eiffel Tower is hard to miss, since it towers over the rest of Paris, where most buildings don’t go over six stories. The best place to view the Eiffel Tower (and take photos with it) is from the Place du Trocadéro, but if you want to actually go up into the Eiffel Tower, you’ll want to head to the Champs de Mars park. Pick up some viennoiseries from a boulangerie or some cheese and charcuterie from a nearby Monoprix grocery store (the closest one is the Monoprix Drive Piéton at 34 Av. de la Motte-Picquet) and share a picnic in the Champs de Mars before heading up. We’d recommend buying a ticket in advance. You can opt to walk up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower for 11,30€, take the elevator there for 18,10€, or take the elevator all the way to the top for 28,30€. There’s even a champagne bar at the top, so you can get a little tipsy while you take in the spectacular views. 

2. Jardin des Tuileries

The Tuileries Garden near Louvre in Paris, France

When you visit Paris, one of the first places the city will lead you is the Jardin des Tuileries in the city center. Originally designed to frame the Tuileries Palace at the behest of Catherine de’ Medici in the 16th century, the Italian Renaissance-inspired Jardin des Tuileries was turned into a public park after the French Revolution. These formal gardens border the Louvre on one side and the Place de la Concorde on the other, where Olympe de Gouges, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Robespierre were all guillotined during the French Revolution.

Stop in the Tuileries in between museum visits, or pop into the Jeu de Paume, Paris’s photography museum, or the Musée de l’Orangerie, a small museum that houses Monet’s famous Water Lilies paintings. You might want to stop at the nearby Ladurée pâtisserie for some macarons, and pick up a split of champagne at La Cave des Tuileries, for a decadent picnic in the royal park. (If you ask, La Cave will even recommend something to pair with your macarons.)

Address: Pl. de la Concorde, 75001 Paris

Price: Free

Time to Spend: 30 minutes

3. Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on a bright afternoon in Spring, panorama image

The Notre Dame cathedral, located in the heart of Paris (quite literally, steps from the Paris Kilometre Zéro city center marker), needs no introduction. You’ve grown up singing about the Bells of Notre Dame thanks to Disney, and maybe you’ve even dug into Victor Hugo’s dense historical novel about the cathedral. Its stained glass windows are considered a classic example of Gothic architecture, and the base of its spire was once surrounded by incredible statues of the Twelve Apostles. Unfortunately, the famous cathedral was severely damaged in a 2019 fire, and visitors cannot currently go inside as the cathedral is being painstakingly renovated. But you can still visit the Île de la Cité and admire the Notre Dame from the outside. While you’re there, the Sainte-Chapelle chapel is open to visitors, and is also remarkably beautiful.

Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris

Price: Free to look at

Time to Spend: 15 minutes (to walk all the way around the cathedral and admire its statuary)

4. The Seine

Bateau Mouche cruising on Seine river at sunset, Paris.

You might not believe this, but Paris only has one UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Banks of the Seine. It’s true!

Wander along the Seine, which splits the Right Bank and Left Bank of Paris, and maybe pick up a book, poster, or postcard from a bouquiniste, or used book seller, on the banks of the river. Cruises along the river are also common, and since many of Paris’s major landmarks are clustered along the Seine, seeing the city by boat is a great way to see a lot of sights in a short period of time.

Address: throughout Paris

Price: Free

Time to Spend: 3 hours if you want to walk the entire length of the Seine, but an hour of wandering the city center will do you just as well

5. Arc de Triomphe

Famous Arc de Triomphe against nice blue sky Arc de Triomphe monument at at the western end of the Champs-elysees road in Paris, France

Located at the Place de l’Étoile, the entire city seems to lead up the spokes of this star straight to the Arc de Triomphe. Built by Napoleon and modeled after the Arch of Titus in Rome, the Arc de Triomphe is a great place to get views of the city. But be warned: there is quite a walk ahead of you. You’ll need to walk 284 steps to access the terrace of the Arc de Triomphe (though an elevator is available for those who require assistance to reach the top).

Many people don’t know this, but there are actually three arches in Paris, and they line up so that theoretically, you could parade in a straight line through all three. There’s the petite Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel outside the Louvre, and the very modern Grande Arche de la Defense at the edge of the city, in the heart of Paris’s financial district. (There are other arches in Paris as well, like the Porte Saint-Denis, but they don’t follow the Arc de Triomphe path.)

Address: Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris

Price: 13€

Time to Spend: 45 minutes

6. Luxembourg gardens

Paris, France - famous landmark, Luxembourg Palace and park. UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Jardin du Luxembourg is the beating heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood in the 6th arrondissement. These stunning gardens lead up to the Luxembourg Palace, and were designed at the behest of Marie de’ Medici in the early 17th century when she relocated to the Luxembourg Palace. There is a large pond often filled with tiny sailboats, the Grand Bassin, which is always surrounded by students, tourists, and locals alike taking in the view from the garden’s signature green metal chairs. The gardens are quite formal and structured, separated by pebble paths that will coat your shoes in a fine layer of beige dust. It’s worth it, though. Take a seat by the Grand Bassin, or on the grass farther back in the park, by the orchard.

Unfortunately, you can’t go inside the palace, as it houses the French Senate, but you can enjoy the garden’s tennis courts, playground, a puppet theater, a charming grotto, and even a tiny Statue of Liberty.

Address: 76005 Paris

Price: Free

Time to Spend: 30 minutes to explore, or a couple hours to picnic

7. Canal Saint-Martin

Paris, France - circa June 2022: People hang out along the canal in the Canal Saint Martin area.

Don’t get stuck in a museum and landmark rut on your next trip to Paris. For a more local experience, wander along the Canal Saint-Martin in the trendy 10th arrondissement. Bars, restaurants, and shops along the canal feed a vibrant nightlife, and on summer evenings the banks of the canal are filled with young people drinking wine and people watching.

Address: Quai de Jemmapes 75010 Paris

Price: Free

Time to Spend: An hour or two with a bottle of wine on a summer evening

8. Palais Garnier

PARIS, france, DECEMBER 22 : An interior view of Opera de Paris, Palais Garnier, It was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera house an is shown on DECEMBER 22, 2012 in Paris.

Fans of musical theater and opera alike will be enchanted by the Palais Garnier in the upscale 9th arrondissement. This opera house is best recognized as the setting of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s seminal musical, The Phantom of the Opera. The building is an opulent ode to the Napoleon III design style, and produces a seasonal program of operas, ballets, and other performances.

(Less aesthetic but with its own fantastic program is the Opéra Bastille opera house on the east side of the city.)

Address: Pl. de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris

Price: €14 for self-guided tour of the opera house, prices for opera tickets vary

Time to Spend: An hour for a tour, up to four hours for an opera

9. Père Lachaise

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 29, 2016: Jim Morrison's grave in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. He was an American singer, songwriter, and poet best remembered as the lead singer of The Doors.

If you’ve got a taste for the morbid, a visit to the Père Lachaise cemetery should be on your list. This sprawling cemetery takes up a large chunk of the 20th arrondissement, full of ancient mausoleums, Gothic gravestones, and elaborately decorated burial plots. Plenty of famous folks, both French and not, are buried here, including Jim Morrison, Chopin, Molière, Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Balzac, Colette, and Camille Pissarro. (The oft-visited Jim Morrisson grave is small, but you’ll be able to find it by the crowd of people placing flowers, nips of booze, and other trinkets around the musician’s final resting place.)

Address: 21 boulevard de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris

Price: Free

Time to Spend: 1 hour

10. Cimetière de Montparnasse

11. Sacré Coeur Basilica

Paris, France - circa May 2022: View of the merry go round on the grounds of the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.

The Sacré Cœur Basilica peers over Paris from its hilltop perch in Montmartre, the “Mount of Martyrs.” The Romano-Byzantine basilica was erected at the end of the 19th century as part of a “National Vow” to atone for national sins following the Franco-Prussian War. The stunning church is dominated by one of the largest mosaics in the world, the Apse Mosaic, as well as one of the grandest organs in Europe. Entry to the basilica is free and open to all, but as it is an active church, visitors should be quiet and respectful when they enter.

Address: 35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris

Price: Free

Time to Spend: 20 minutes (or longer if you’d like to attend a mass)

12. Le Marais

Le Marais

The historic Marais district covers Paris’s 3rd and 4th arrondissements, and is full of boutique shops, art galleries, and fabulous restaurants. Le Marais was historically Paris’s Jewish quarter, as well as its gayborhood, and both influences still reflect heavily on this charming, arty neighborhood. Enjoy a picnic in Place des Vosges, stop for some cheap eats at L’As du Fallafel, or cap off your night with a drink at Little Red Door, one of Paris’s most famous cocktail bars. And go shopping if you dare — but be prepared to spend a small fortune at one of the trendy boutiques in Le Marais. Finally, of course, check out one of the many galleries and art museums in the neighborhood.

Address: 75003 and 75004, Paris

Price: Free to wander, pricey to shop

Time to Spend: 2 hours

13. Latin Quarter

The Sorbonne is an edifice of the Latin Quarter, in Paris, France, which was the historical house of the former University of Paris. Architecture and landmarks of Paris. Postcard of Paris

On Paris’s Left Bank, sits the Latin Quarter, named for the university students who studied and conversed in Latin in the Middle Ages. It’s the oldest neighborhood in Paris, marked by tiny medieval streets and buildings that pre-date the grand Haussmannian style of the rest of the city. It’s home to dozens of attractions, including the famous bookstore Shakespeare & Co., the Panthéon (where Voltaire and Marie Curie’s remains join those of other French legends), the Sorbonne University, the Jardin des Plantes botanical gardens, and the Middle Ages museum known as the Musée de Cluny

Address: 75005 Paris

Price: Free

Time to Spend: An hour to explore, plus more to see sights like the Panthéon or Musée de Cluny

14. Cafes of Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Paris, France - November 01, 2017: The famous Cafe de Flore and its visitors. Saint-Germain boulevard. Parisians and tourist enjoy eat and drinks in cafe sidewalk. Autumn Paris

Pick up a copy of A Moveable Feast or Giovanni’s Room at the English bookstore Shakespeare & Co., and then stop for a café au lait at the Café de Flore, La Rotonde, or Les Deux Magots. These famous cafes in the Left Bank neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés were the center of artistic and intellectual life in the early to mid-20th century, frequented by writers and artists like Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí. You’ll overpay for your coffee for sure, but that Midnight in Paris main character energy you’ll get from it is worth it.

Address: Café de Flore, 172 Bd Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris; La Rotonde, 105 Bd du Montparnasse, 75006 Paris; Les Deux Magots, 6 Pl. Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris

Price: Varies

Time to Spend: 1 hour

15. Markets

PARIS, FRANCE - AUGUST 29, 2015: The open-air market in the Bastille district is one of the largest and busiest in the city selling fresh produce from France and other European countries.

Nearly every neighborhood in Paris has its own market, and these marchés are the best for finding fresh produce, meats, cheeses, flowers, and whatever else you might be looking for. Stop at some of the world renowned restaurant stalls at the Marché des Enfants Rouges (just be prepared to wait and cram in at a tiny bar seat — but don’t worry, the food is worth it). Hunt for antiques at the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen (or “flea market” of Saint-Ouen), pick up your weekly groceries at the Marché Bastille, or grab a bouquet of fresh flowers at the Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux.

Address: Marché des Enfants Rouges, 39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris; Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint Ouen; Marché Bastille, 2018 Bd Richard-Lenoir, 75011 Paris; Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux, 37 Place Louis Lépine, 75004 Paris

Price: entry is free but the groceries are not!

Time to Spend: 1 hour

16. Walking Tour

Paris, France. August 2022. A guide tells his story to tourists in Paris. High quality photo

The best way to explore Paris is on foot, and a walking tour is a great way to see the sights while also learning about Paris history. Enjoy a free tour of the Latin Quarter, Montmartre, or Le Marais. (Just don’t forget to tip, ideally €10 per person.) or We’ve got a guide to some of the most unique Paris tours, including a thrilling scavenger hunt to save Marie Antoinette, and a walking tour highlighting Paris’s gruesome criminal history.

World War II buffs can learn about some of the darker aspects of French history over the last century on one of the many Paris tours focusing on the Second World War.

And if you’re looking to really explore Paris, a food tour is a great option for tasting the city without worrying about bakery lines or booking a restaurant reservation.

Address: Varies

Price: Varies

Time to Spend: 2.5-3 hours

17. Louvre

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 06, 2017 : Louvre museum with pyramid in twilight

Take in a bit of French culture by walking around this former royal palace, now one of the best art museums in the world. (It’s actually the most visited museum in the world, with millions of visitors each year.)

The Louvre spans thousands of years of Parisian history, and bears the architectural marks of hundreds of years of design and renovation, a living work of art. It was originally a medieval fortress before being converted to the primary residence of the kings of France in the 16th century. The Louvre was the renovated by King Louis XIV in the 17th century, to reflect its new function as a place for the arts after the royal palace was moved to Versailles. The style of decor that still dominates the Louvre museum is known as the Louis XIV style. After the French Revolution, it was turned into a museum, and over the years became home to some of the most famous works of art in the world, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

But the biggest mistake people make when visiting the Louvre is fixating on these artworks, and ignoring the innumerable other pieces that add so much value to the Louvre’s collection. (A funny tidbit about the Mona Lisa is that it’s actually located on the opposite wall from the largest painting in the Louvre, The Wedding Feast at Cana, which is often completely overlooked by people vying for selfies with the comparably tiny Mona Lisa.)

Again, buying tickets in advance is highly advised. Lines can be long during peak months, but certain Paris tours will offer you skip the line access. Set aside plenty of time to visit this museum, and if you’re traveling with children, check out our guide to visiting the Louvre with kids.

Address: 75001 Paris

Price: €17 if purchased online, €15 if purchased at the museum

Time to Spend: 3+ hours

18. Musée d’Orsay

Musee d'Orsay Clock in Paris, France

There are plenty of incredible art museums in the French capital. For a captivating slice of impressionist art, art lovers must visit the Musée d’Orsay. The former railway station is in the city center, right on the Seine, and is a beautiful building in itself, full of light and Belle Époque details. You can admire the massive clockface inside the former train station after you’ve finished exploring works from the 19th century up to the early 20th century, from impressionist art masters like Van Gogh, Monet, and Renoir.

Address: 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris

Price: €14 for tickets purchased at the museum, €16 for tickets purchased online (which will guarantee you entry for a specific time slot, which saves you time waiting in line)

Time to Spend: 1.5-2 hours

19. Centre Pompidou

Pompidou Center - Paris

Not far from the city center, in the historic Marais district, is the Centre Pompidou, Paris’s museum of modern and contemporary art. The building is impossible to miss, and looks like it has been flipped inside out, with its plumbing exposed. The building has remained controversial since its opening in the 1970s, with many considering it an eyesore at best. But still, it remains a hub, and you’ll find students and buskers and vendors studying or singing or selling their wares in the square out front at all hours. (Students in particular flock to the museum’s free library.) The Centre Pompidou should be your first stop in Le Marais, as it is the place to find works by Piet Mondrian, Vassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró, Jean Dubuffet, Henri Matisse, Yves Klein, and more.

Address: Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris

Price: €15 for permanent collection, €18 for permanent collection and temporary exhibitions

Time to Spend: 2 hours

20. Palais de Tokyo

PARIS, FRANCE -25 DECEMBER 2017- The Musee d Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art) is located in the 1937 Palais de Tokyo building in the 16th arrondissement.

For contemporary art, visit the Palais de Tokyo. It’s the largest contemporary art center in Europe, and the collection is always changing to reflect the freshest, edgiest work from contemporary artists. This museum is great for a second or third trip to Paris, once you’re tired of looking at Roman statues and Impressionist paintings.

Address: 13 Av. du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris

Price: €12

Time to Spend: 1 hour

21. Musée Rodin

PARIS - AUG 3: The Three Shades at the Musee Rodin in Paris, France, is shown here on August 3, 2016.

One of the most beautiful museums in Paris is the Musée Rodin, where sculptor Auguste Rodin lived and worked, until bequeathing the house and all of his works to the French State upon his death in 1916. The gorgeous hidden mansion and impeccable gardens contain statues of marble and bronze that come alive as you watch, showcasing Rodin’s incredible capacity for illustrating movement. Famous works like The Thinker, The Kiss, and Dante’s Inferno double and triple as you explore the different casts and versions of these iconic statues.

Address: 19 boulevard des Invalides, 75007 Paris

Price: €13

Time to Spend: 1 hour

22. Musée Picasso

PARIS, FRANCE -2 JAN 2018- View of the Musee Picasso museum, located in the Hotel Sale in the Marais area of Paris, which reopened in 2014 after a five year closure.

There is no shortage of Picassos in Paris, but if you’re really a Pablo-maniac, you can visit the Musée Picasso in Le Marais. Housed in the Hôtel Salé, a Mazarin style mansion from the 17th century, the museum is filled with works from the late artist’s estate, and changing exhibitions that explore his life and work in more detail.

Address: 5 rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris

Price: €14

Time to Spend: 1 hour

23. Château de Versailles

Hall of Mirrors in the palace of Versailles, France, September 2017

If you want to take a day trip outside of the city during your Paris visit, the Palace of Versailles is an obvious choice. The royal palace is a quick day trip, just an hour away from the city center, and you can spend a few hours exploring the exquisite gardens, and the rooms where generations of French kings, including Louis XVI and his arguably more famous wife, Marie Antoinette, lived in glamorous excess. Check out our guide to Versailles here.

Address: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles

Price: €19,50 for the Palace, €28,50 for the Palace and gardens

Time to Spend: 3 hours, plus an hour each way for travel from Paris

24. Visit the Hammam at the Grande Mosquée de Paris

Ornamental glass door with golden geometric design facing out towards Oriental courtyard with marble pillars, garden, and emerald tiled floor. Grand Mosque of Paris.

Inside the Grande Mosquée de Paris in the Latin Quarter is not only a mosque, but a beautiful courtyard tea room and restaurant. But even further inside is the hammam, a Turkish bath with steam rooms that offers a variety of wellness services. Only women are allowed inside, and no photos can be taken of the interior, making this gorgeous space, a stunning example of traditional Islamic architecture with tall stone columns, a domed ceiling, and turquoise tiling, the perfect escape to unplug and decompress. In addition to massages, you can experience the traditional ritual of gommage, where you will be scrubbed down and exfoliated to baby soft skin. There is even an extremely hot room (not joking, probably the hottest steam room in existence) where you can dip in a cool swimming pool where you can sweat out your travel stress. Once you’ve finished, you’ll be rewarded with a sweet cup of mint tea.

Address: 2bis Pl. du Puits de l’Ermite, 75005 Paris

Price: From €30

Time to Spend: At least 2 hours, plus more if you schedule additional services

25. Pick up a book at Shakespeare and Company

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 1, 2021. In a district of old Paris, a vintage "Shakespeare and Company" bookstore offers Art books, novels, comics ... new and used.

Shakespeare and Company, the beloved English language bookstore in the heart of Paris, has been at the center of Paris’s expat literary scene for generations. The current store was originally named Le Mistral and was founded by American expat George Whitman in 1951. But the store was soon renamed in honor of Paris’s original Shakespeare and Company, another American whose shop was a meeting place for literary giants like James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound. Today, the store hosts regular events with today’s class of world renowned authors. It is also famous for its Tumbleweed program, which allows backpacking writers to spend a night at the store in exchange for working a short shift. (This program, though currently on hiatus, remains very popular and there are rarely beds available, but you can enquire about the program via email if you are interested.) The store has expanded over the last ten years to accommodate its popularity, with the bookstore opening up a cafe just next door, and making additional store rooms available to customers.

Address: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris

Price: Free to enter

Time to Spend: 20 minutes

Final Thoughts

You could spend a lifetime exploring all that Paris has to offer, and even a weeklong visit is hardly enough to catch some of Paris’s most famous landmarks. So don’t fixate on trying to check everything off your list. Pick a few activities that really interest you, and leave yourself plenty of time to flâner and soak in the beauty and energy of this remarkable city.

If you’re looking for more Paris travel tips, don’t miss our guide to the best free things to do in Paris, Paris’s secret gardens, and our recommendations for where to stay and what to eat in Paris.

Catherine Rickman is a writer, professional francophile, and host of the Expat Horror Stories podcast. She is currently somewhere in Brooklyn with a fork in one hand and a pen in the other, and you can follow her adventures on Instagram @catrickman.

Read more: The 25 Best Things to Do in Paris: Paris Bucket List 2023 Read more: The 25 Best Things to Do in Paris: Paris Bucket List 2023
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