Paris is easily one of our favourite European cities, and one that we return to time and again. It has so much to offer, from beautiful views to world class museums to fabulous food. We’ve visited a number of times, both for short breaks like the 2 days in this Paris itinerary, as well as for more prolonged stays as part of a longer European itinerary.
Speaking of a shorter visit, we wanted to share with you an itinerary for 2 days in Paris that will get you to all our favourite sights. It’s a fairly packed itinerary (feel free to adjust accordingly!), but if you’re short on time in the city and want to see as much as you can – this will help you do that. If you have slightly longer, you might want to check out our guide to spending 3 days in Paris.
This Paris itinerary is perfect for a first time visitor, or even a returning visitor looking for a quick 2 day Paris itinerary that includes most of the major attractions. After the itinerary, we share some tips and advice for visiting Paris, as well as some ideas for saving money on your trip. Now onto our suggestions of how to spend the perfect 2 days in Paris.
2 Day Paris Itinerary
Paris Itinerary: Day 1
1. Saint Chapelle
I have to admit, it took multiple visits to Paris before I actually visited Saint Chapelle. Suffice to say, my mind was blown. This is without doubt one of the prettiest churches I’ve ever visited, and I can’t believe it took me so long to actually go inside.
With almost floor to ceiling stained glass windows, this 13th century gothic chapel will literally take your breath away when you walk inside. Don’t feel bad if you stand there, mouth agape with wonder. I certainly did, until I remembered myself and got to taking some pictures. It’s a truly wonderful place, and an absolute must in Paris.
Saint Chapelle normally opens at 9am, and we highly recommend you get here by 9am sharp, if not a little earlier, in order to get in before the queues. It’s a relatively small attraction, and the security and ticket lines can be long, so arriving here when it opens will save you a lot of time.
2. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Just near Saint Chapelle is one of Paris’s most well know religious buildings – Notre-Dame Cathedral. With two huge towers and mighty flying buttresses, it’s not hard to see why this has become one of Paris’s iconic attractions, not to mention one of the most famous churches in the world.
Completed in 1345 after nearly 200 years of construction, Notre Dame is a beautiful building that is well worth the visit. You can walk around and appreciate the exterior, and of course, you can head inside.
Entry is free, although if you want to visit either the towers or the crypt there is an additional fee (included with the Paris Pass and Paris Museum Pass), and you need to pre-book a timeslot for climbing the tower.
*Note that on April 15th 2019 a devastating fire seriously damaged Notre Dame. We believe the cathedral will be closed for the foreseeable future as a result of this tragic incident. We would suggest that you add a nearby attraction like the Conciergerie or Sainte Chapelle to your list. The former is an excellent place to learn all about the French Revolution, and was where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned prior to her execution. The latter is a stunning chapel home to the most impressive stained glass I’ve ever seen!*
From Notre Dame it’s a 20 minute walk (or 15 minute metro ride) to one of Paris’s most famous museums – the Louvre. This is of course home to the Mona Lisa (which many visitors make a bee-line for!) and the Venus de Milo, but the largest and most visited art gallery in the world has a great deal more to offer than these two sights, from Islamic art to Greek antiquities.
You could spend a whole day (or more!) just exploring the Louvre, but that would restrict the rest of your Paris sightseeing, so try and limit yourself to two or three hours if you can!
Also, you should be aware that the Louvre is one of Paris’s most popular attractions, and lines can get long. Usually there are two main entry lines outside the glass pyrmaid, one fast track security line for those with advance tickets, and one slower line for people without an advance ticket.
On some exceptionally busy days, entrance is only permitted with an advance purchase ticket, and we definitely recommend you buy yours in advance of your visit so as not to miss out. This will also save you time.
We’d definitely encourage you to save money and time by either getting a fast track ticket in advance, or buying a pass that gives you access to the fast track line. Both the Paris Pass and Paris Museum Pass offer free entry to the Louvre with fast-track access – see more at the end of the post on which pass is going to best for this two day itinerary.
Note that in the busy times, which tend to be the summer periods especially, the Louvre gets very busy. In summer 2019, there were multiple days when the museum actually sold out, and only holders of advance purchase tickets or timed reservations were able to enter the museum.
If you have a Paris Pass or Paris Museum Pass, you need to reserve your entry online on the official website. This is mandatory for holders of these passes in order to guarantee entry, and we highly recommend you do this in advance. If you do not reserve your slot in advance, you are not guaranteed entry even with the pass.
If you do not have a pass, you can buy your ticket and reserve your entry time online on the official website here. If there is no availability on the official website, you still have options.
We have had luck buying tickets via GetYourGuide here, these tickets come from a different allocation pool. They do cost a little more per ticket, but we think the small difference is worth it if you want to visit and can’t find tickets on the official site.
Finally, you can also book a walking tour of the Louvre like this. This is a great option if you want to learn more about what you are seeing, as well as if you can’t get tickets any other way!
We’d suggest using Take Walks for this – we’ve taken a lot of walking tours with them in cities all around the world, and love the knowledgeable guides and small group sizes. See our suggested Louvre walking tour with Take Walks here.
Note the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. See opening times and more on the official site here.
4. Wine Tasting
Depending on how much time you spend at the Louvre, you might have time for a spot of wine tasting afterwards. Note that this activity is one that we suggest you skip though if you feel this itinerary is a bit busy for you.
France is known the world over for wine, so after you’ve sated your cultural curiosity at the Louvre, why not relax a bit over a glass of wine whilst learning all about the art of French wine making. Sound good?
Well, conveniently, right next door to the Louvre you’ll find the “Caves du Louvre”, a relatively new wine tasting experience set in an 18th century wine cellar, formerly home to the wine collection of the King of France himself.
Here, over the period of about an hour, you’ll try three different French wines, whilst learning all about grape varieties and the factors that go into the making of a French wine.
It’s a fun experience, and you can either do it as a self-guided tour using an app, or with a tour leader. It’s currently €30 for the tour, but it is free for holders of the Paris Pass. If you choose the self-guided option, you even get a free bottle of wine for your effort.
If you’re not keen on drink, or you’re travelling with children, you might instead want to pop along to the nearby Angelina Café for a divine cup of hot chocolate. Or if you’re into tea, check out Jess’s guide to the best afternoon tea locations in Paris.
5. Arc de Triomphe
There are a number of places in Paris that I think offer fantastic views of the city, and the Arc de Triomphe is one of my favourites. Found at the western end of the Champs Elysees, this fifty metre high monument to those who died for France in both the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars is a must-see when visiting Paris.
You can of course admire the arch from below, and be amazed at the efforts of the traffic to get around this monumental roundabout. But to be honest, for the best experience, you need to climb the steps to the top (or take the lift) and enjoy the magnificent views of the city. Note – to cross to the Arch, take the pedestrian underpass. Don’t try and cross the traffic roundabout!
From the top of the Arc de Triomphe you get wonderful views of the Parisian skyline, including the Eiffel Tower, and the business district La Défense.
I’d also add, if you take the stairs on your way out, there’s a nice photo opportunity as you look down the stair well from the top of the stairs spiralling down. If you’re interested in more good photo opportunity ideas in Paris, check out my guide to the best photography locations in Paris.
Climbing the Arc de Triomphe costs €12. It’s included with the Paris Pass and the Paris Museum Pass, which both also offer fast-track entry.
5. Eiffel Tower
We’re near the end of your first day in Paris and this entry is an absolute must when in Paris – the Eiffel Tower. You will have already seen this magnificent construction looming over the skyline as you wandered around Paris, but I promise you, nothing really compares to standing underneath her and looking up.
You can experience the Eiffel Tower in a number of ways. Good views can be had from the Trocadero, on the opposite bank of the Seine. You can also get a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower at sunset from the Champ de Mars – the landscaped gardens that run to the southeast of the tower. This is a popular spot for the sunset in Paris, and many people bring a picnic to sit outside and enjoy the view in the warmer months, often with a glass of wine in hand.
If you want to climb the tower, we very much recommend that you book your tickets in advance. This will save you from queuing in the often very long lines at the ticket offices. Tickets can be purchased directly from the official website, which usually has the best prices.
In 2018 the Paris Explorer Pass was launched, which includes the Eiffel Tower. This can be a cost effective way for sight-seeing as well – see our guide to saving money in Paris further on in the post for more information.
We would say that climbing the Eiffel Tower is definitely something to experience, something everyone should do at least once.
There are also restaurants in the tower, which would make for a romantic spot for your evening meal. If you do choose to do this, we’d definitely recommend researching which restaurant you want to visit (prices vary), and booking in advance so as not to be disappointed. Alternatively, you can do an evening river cruise on the Seine with a meal!
See our complete guide to visiting the Eiffel tower for more tips, and to help you plan your visit.
6. Seine River Cruise
One thing many people look forward to when visiting Paris is taking a Seine River Cruise. These let you see a good many Parisian sights from a unique perspective, often whilst listening to a commentary. Most tours last around an hour, and are a nice way to see a lot without too much effort. Just sit back, relax, and let the views roll on by.
Jess has written a detailed post to choosing a Seine River Cruise to help you decide between the various operators. There are a lot of options, and even though the view and route will largely be the same, various factors like commentary and boat size should be considered.
Some also offer a meal, although if you go down this route, you might have to adjust this itinerary to suit.
One tip – if you buy the Paris Pass, a Seine River Cruise with Bateaux Parisiens is included. This is a good option, and one we took advantage of on a recent trip to Paris.
Paris Itinerary: Day 2
8. Sacre Coeur
Your second day in Paris has you starting at the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. This beautiful basilica is found at the summit of Montmartre hill, the highest summit in the city. As you would imagine therefore, there are excellent views on offer from up here.
The Basilica is relatively new, with construction being completed in 1914. Its white domes are instantly recognisable, and you can climb to the top for a fantastic view of the city. Entry to the Sacre Coeur itself is free, although there is a fee for accessing the towers.
Montmartre itself is an area which has long been popular with artists, and many famous artists of the Belle Époque era had their studios in this area. Today, you can get your portrait, caricature or silhouette painted at the famous Place du Tertre, a short walk from the Basilica.
Note that the steps of the basilica are particularly popular with “bracelet makers”, folks who will try to encourage you to accept a free bracelet from them. Except once they’ve starting tying your wrist with the free bracelet, they’ll expect some money in return. For tips on avoiding this and other common Paris scams, check out our guide to avoiding scams in Paris.
9. Dalí Museum
Whilst you are up in the Montmartre area, we suggest you might want to take in the Dalí Museum – Espace Dalí. For fans of the artist, who was a part of the Surrealism group that was headquartered in Montmartre in Paris, this museum is a joy.
This isn’t an essential visit though, so if you would prefer to just get on with your day, this one can easily be skipped.
With over three hundred original artworks on display, this is the only permanent museum in Paris dedicated to the artist. There are sculptures, drawings, watercolours and more on display, and the attached gallery even has some of his artwork for sale.
Entry is €11.50, free for holders of the Paris Pass.
10. Opera Garnier Tour
From the Dali Museum it’s around a half hour stroll, or half an hour by public transport, to the next stop on our two day Paris itinerary – the Opera Palais Garnier.
We’re not actually going to the Opera though, although that is of course an option for an evening activity. Instead, we suggest that you take a tour of this spectacular building, which served as the inspiration for the play “Phantom of the Opera”.
The tour will give you full access to many parts of this gorgeous building, including the 2,000 seat theatre, the gorgeous grand staircase, the incredible seven tonne chandelier, and the balcony. The tour lasts for approximately ninety minutes, and is offered in English – check times on the official website here so as to be sure you don’t miss it.
Tours of the Opera Garnier are currently €15.50 per person, and are free for holders of the Paris Pass.
If you are interested in attending a performance at the Opera Garnier, read Jess’s detailed post to booking tickets for the Paris Opera here.
11. Musee d’Orsay
From the Opera Garnier we’re going to head to another of Paris’s famous museums – the Musee d’Orsay. Found in a former train station on the south bank of the River Seine, this spectacular building picks up where the Louvre finishes off, with a focus on artworks dating from 1848.
We think that the building itself make this museum worth the visit alone. What was formerly the main platform area is now a huge exhibition space which looks stunning, and the beautiful station clocks are seriously photogenic. Of course, the museum has no shortage of art either, with works from Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Renoir all on display, to name but a few.
12. Stroll along the Left Bank
Paris is a romantic city, and we think that one of the most romantic things you can do is take a wander along the “Left Bank”.
In case you were wondering where the left bank is, it’s the south side of the river Seine. It’s called the Left Bank because it’s the left side of the river as you look downstream.
From the Musee d’Orsay, it’s a nice stroll along the left bank, if you head in an easterly direction, with views of the Louvre, the Pont des Arts and ultimately, if you keep going, spectacular views of Notre Dame.
13. Sunset at Tour Montparnasse
The last two entries on our two day itinerary can be switched around, depending on what time of year you visit. This is because sunset will vary depending on when you visit, and I’d suggest that the Tour Montparnasse is absolutely best experienced at sunset.
The Tour Montparnasse is the second tallest skyscraper in Paris, and from its rooftop observation deck you get what we think are the best views of Paris. From here you can see all the way to the Eiffel Tower, Montparnasse and La Defense.
At sunset, the view is truly magical, as the sun lights up the sky, and the city lights start to come on. Then – the pièce de résistance – the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower herself.
Access to the Tour Montparnasse viewing deck is currently €14.50 per person, or free for holders of the Paris Pass.
14. Centre Pompidou
Last on our list of attractions for our two day Paris itinerary is the Centre Pompidou. This is home to a number of things, but we think you’ll be most interested in the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Europe’s largest Museum of Modern Art.
This completes the trilogy of art museums in Paris – the Louvre spanning up to 1848, the Musée d’Orsay covers the 19th and early 20th century, with the Centre Pompidou holding the the masters of modern twentieth century art. I’m talking Picasso, Warhol, Kandinsky, and Duchamp.
Conveniently, the museum is open until 9pm, which means you’ll be able to visit either before or after your sunset at Tour Montparnasse. Don’t miss the “view of Paris”, a balcony which offers one of the better view of Montmartre in the city.
Again, this is not a “must-see” in Paris, so feel free to skip this one if you don’t want to feel rushed.
2 Days in Paris Itinerary Map
To help you visualise all the above, we’ve put the attractions onto a map so you can see where you need to be for each day of your Paris visit. You can see this map here on Google.
When to Visit Paris
Paris is a city that is good to visit throughout the year. As with most European cities, it is particularly busy in the summer months, and lines for attractions in July and August can be long. The summer months do however promise the best weather.
If you want reasonable weather with less people, then the months of May and September will offer some solace. We also love visiting Paris in both fall and winter, when the leaves on the trees turn golden, and the city lights itself up for Christmas.
Basically, we think you’ll have a good time whenever you visit Paris, but just bear in mind that some months are much busier than others.
How to Get Around Paris
Paris is very easy to get around, with a comprehensive underground (the Metropolitan) as well as buses and local trains. Naturally there are also taxis and private hire cars available.
If you avail of the Paris Pass (see below on money saving tips for Paris), this will come with a transport pass that matches the length of the pass, allowing you to travel on any public transport inside zones 1 – 3. These zones cover all the attractions on this itinerary. Alternatively, you can buy individual tickets for transport on the metro or bus.
The most cost-effective way to do this is to buy tickets in packs of 10, which represents a fairly significant discount on buying them individually. Tickets can be bought at pretty much every metro station from the ticket machines, which accept cash and cards, as well as coming with an English language option.
How to Save Money on Your Paris trip
The Paris itinerary above packs a lot into two days, and many of the sights and activities have an associated fee. At time of writing, if you chose to do everything in the above list, you’d be looking at spending just over €200 per person (including a two day metro transport card).
The good news is that you can easily save money on your visit to Paris. The answer is to invest in a Paris Pass. This includes access to nearly everything we’ve included in our itinerary (except the Sacre Coeur dome and the Eiffel Tower). It also comes with a travel card valid for the duration of the pass and grants you skip the line privileges at key sights.
Calculating if a Paris Pass is worth it for you will depend on exactly which attractions you want to visit – to help you out, check out Jess’s comprehensive Paris Pass review post.
As a guide though, for the itinerary in this post, total attraction entry and transport would cost you €211.5. At time of writing a two day Paris Pass costs €131. Add in the cost of climbing the Sacre Coeur (€6), and a ticket to the top of the Eiffel Tower (€25), and the total cost with the pass would be €162.
This represents a saving per person of €49.50 – enough for a nice dinner somewhere! Click here to buy your Paris Pass in advance.
Another option, if you’re not sure how many attractions you want to visit, is the Paris Explorer Pass. This lets you pick a number of top attractions in Paris (including, notably, the Eiffel Tower), and covers many of the attractions listed in this post.
If you aren’t planning on visiting every attraction in this list, then the Paris Explorer Pass might be a better option, as you can pick from 3, 5 or 7 major attractions, and save on visiting those.
As well as the above, you should be aware that on the first Sunday of every month, access to most museums in Paris is free – although be aware that popular museums like the Louvre get incredibly busy on these days. In addition, some locations will give you free entry if you are an EU citizen under 26 – you’ll need ID to prove this of course.
Where to Stay in Paris
We’ve stayed at a variety of locations in Paris, from hosted apartments through to hotels and homestays. There’s a massive choice, and prices are generally reasonable considering this is a capital city. We’d advise picking somewhere within easy walking distance of a metro so that you can easily get around all the sights in this itinerary.
Our favourite way to find the best deals on accommodation is booking.com. They’re easy to use, usually have the best prices, and have everything from hotels to apartments.
- Hotel Dress Code & Spa, a highly reviewed centrally located 4 star hotel right a few hundred yards from the opera house
- Hôtel Eiffel Turenne, a well rated 3* hotel within a ten minute walk of the Eiffel Tower
- Ateliers de Montmartre, an apartment in Montmartre with views of the Sacre Coeur
- Vintage Paris Gare du Nord by Hiphophostels, a Hostel just next to Paris Gare du Nord
If you prefer an apartment, then we recommend AirBnB.
Practicalities for visiting Paris
Safety: We’ve not had any problems in Paris, although there are a few scams to be aware of – check our guide to avoiding common Paris scams so you are prepared in advance.
Power: Electricity is of the 220v standard, with the 2 pin European style plug. Travellers from countries like the UK and the US will need an adapter like this, and US travellers need to check their equipment supports the 220v standard – it will be written clearly on the power adapter.
See more on travel adapters and how to choose one for your trip in our guide to the best travel adapters.
Currency: Paris is part of the Eurozone, so the currency is the Euro. You can get these from ATM’s, banks and currency exchanges, although credit cards are of course widely accepted.
Internet: Internet access is widely available in the form of WiFi all around the city and in hotels and coffee shops, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting online. You can also pick up local SIM cards if you have an unlocked phone. Travellers from the UK on the Three network will be able to use their Feel At Home data, which is a great deal if you’re a regular traveller from the UK.
For more options on getting online when travelling, check out our guide to getting online when travelling to help you figure out the best options. We also have a guide to picking the best travel router, which can help you extend a weak WiFi network and share it across multiple devices.
Water: The water in the taps is safe to drink unless otherwise posted. If you don’t like the taste, bottled water is widely available. We usually recommend you travel with a re-usable water bottle like this to save on having to buy water bottles.
Eating in Paris: Paris has no shortage of excellent dining options to choose from. Whilst we generally don’t recommend specific restaurants as they can change so quickly, we do have a guide to some of our favourite restaurants in Paris here for inspiration.
We suggest that if you do want to eat at one of the more popular restaurants in Paris that you consider booking in advance. We recommend and use La Fourchette (the fork), which is the most popular online restaurant booking website in France. It’s easy to use and makes booking a breeze, especially if you don’t speak French. Check it out here to find reviews, sample menus and book a table.
Walking Tours of Paris
If you would like to do a guided tour in Paris for part of your stay, then we suggest you take a look at Take Walks. We’ve used them for walking tours in cities around the world, and have never been disappointed. They focus on small group tours, led by experts, and they have a number of walking tours in Paris we can recommend. These are:
- A full day walking tour of Paris which includes many of the highlights in our post, including the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and a Seine River Cruise
- A shorter, introduction to Paris walking tour that also includes a river cruise and a game of petanque!
- A three hour tour that includes Saint Chapelle and Notre Dame
- They also have more tours in Paris, see all the options here
As you can see, there are lots of good options for walking tours in Paris. We’re sure if you want to take a walking tour in Paris, that one of these options will definitely work for you.
Further Reading for your Paris trip
And that’s pretty much it for our guide and itinerary to spending the perfect 2 days in Paris! Before you go though, we wanted to share some resources to help you further plan your trip to the French capital. These are:
- A guide to spending 3 Days in Paris, if you want more inspiration or have a little more time
- We also have a guide to spending a day in Paris, if you’re on a really tight schedule and just want to focus on the highlights
- My guide to the best photography locations in Paris, to help you get the best shots on your trip, plus a photo essay of Paris, just to get you excited
- A guide to choosing a Seine river cruise, buying Paris opera tickets, attending a fashion show in Paris and how to save money on Michelin starred restaurants in Paris
- Our review of the Paris Pass, to help you decide if it might save you money
- A guide to Airbnb Alternatives to help you find the right accommodation
- If you like afternoon tea, check out our definitive guide to the best afternoon tea locations in Paris
- For walking tours in Paris, we can recommend both Context Tours (link gives 10% off) and Take Walks who both offer tours in Paris.
- We have a detailed guide to attending the famous Moulin Rouge show in Paris
- If you want a guide book to Paris, we always like to recommend the Rick Steves guides – here’s the Rick Steves Paris edition
And that’s it! How would you spend two days in Paris? Do you have anything to add to the above, or any questions? Let us know in the comments below!