10 Things to do in Paris That You Can't Miss
Paris, chosen as a “favorite city to visit” in Generali’s annual summer travel survey, has a rich history, some of the world’s best art, and many of the world’s top restaurants. Deciding what to see in Paris can be overwhelming for even the most experienced traveler.
Here's our rundown on the top 10 things to do in Paris if you have limited time, including some of its most iconic landmarks, museums, and neighborhoods:
The Eiffel Tower
Designed for the 1889 World’s Fair, this top Parisian attraction is one of the most popular things to see in Paris and in the entire world. Take the elevator to the top for panoramic views of the city, and book your tickets online at the Eiffel Tower’s website to bypass lines. In addition, you may want to add a night trip to see the tower lit up.
The Musee du Louvre
The Musee du Louvre is considered one of the best museums in the world, which means it is also one of the top things to do in Paris. The Louvre opened in the late 1700s and features 35,000 pieces of art in 650,000 square feet of gallery space. The Louvre is impossible to do in one day, so plan ahead if you know there are certain pieces you want to include in your tour, such as the famous Mona Lisa. Bring a map because it is easy to get lost in this enormous museum.
Sacré Coeur Basilica & Montmartre
Sacré Coeur, recognized for its ivory color, is sometimes overlooked in terms of Paris attractions, but is worth the visit. The Roman-Byzantine basilica overlooks the neighborhood of Montmartre, once known as a bohemian artist hangout.
Climb the outdoor staircase for views of the city, then go inside to see the largest mosaic in France decorating the ceiling, and then explore the picturesque Montmartre neighborhood. Then, visit Pigalle for a view of Paris’s seedier side. Go to the Cimetière de Montmartre to see the graves of some of Paris’s more famous citizens, including Émile Zola and Edgar Degas. Finally, don’t miss a view of the famous Moulin Rouge, a favorite hangout of Toulouse-Lautrec and the (self-proclaimed) most famous cabaret in the world.
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame, the famous medieval gothic cathedral located on the banks of the Seine, is a free must-see in Paris. Admire intricate architecture and stained glass windows inside the cathedral and then walk up the 387 steps to see the views of Paris. You can also attend a Catholic mass at the cathedral daily.
Le Marais was once the Jewish neighborhood in Paris, and today offers a historic view of Parisian culture, food, and fashion. Visit the Place de Vosges to see the oldest planned square in Paris and the house where Victor Hugo once lived and wrote Les Miserables. Then take a stroll down Rue des Rosiers to window shop the vintage clothing shops.
On the left bank of the Seine in a former railway station is a museum dedicated to Paris’s most accomplished impressionist artists. Take in the works of Degas, Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Cassat, and Renoir, as well as a view of Sacré Coeur from the top balcony. While it isn’t as popular as the Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay can still be crowded, so try to go on a weekday.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Italy, the Luxembourg Gardens are one of the top things to do in Paris because they offer a sunny reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. Created under the reign of Queen Marie de Medici in 1612, the gardens have 106 statues. Be sure to visit the Medici fountain, the Orangerie, and the Pavillon Davioud. Wander the gardens and then sit and people watch with a picnic.
The palace of Versailles is located 14 miles outside of Paris and was originally a hunting lodge for Louis XII. In the late 17th Century, Louis XIV moved the entire French court and government here from Paris during his reign. Give yourself several hours to explore the main palace and include the Hall of Mirrors, Marie Antoinette’s bedroom, the King’s Apartments, and the Battles gallery. Next, take a stroll through the gardens and finish with the Queen’s Hamlet, which served as an escape from the palace for Marie Antoinette.
In terms of places to visit in Paris, this is one of the least romantic in a city known as the City of Love, but it is one of the creepiest places imaginable. As Paris has grown, space for cemeteries ran out, which led to the creation of the catacombs in limestone quarries beneath the city. It took 12 years to move six million of the city’s dead into the ossuary. While the catacombs stretch across the city, visitors are allowed to explore one mile of it--perfect for dipping your toes into some urban exploring.
See more: Scary Vacation Spots Around the World
Paris Food Tour
You can’t visit Paris without indulging in some of the world’s best cuisine, which is why a food tour should be on your list of things to do in Paris. You have your pick of Michelin-star restaurants to corner bakeries to vendors selling crepes on the street, and all of it is fantastic. One way to experience Parisian food is to join a food tour. The type of food, neighborhood, and price vary, but can range from $50 U.S. to more than $200.
Paris Travel Tips
Travel Protection Plans for Trips Abroad
Follow our tips for the top things to see in Paris and you’ll be well on your way to exploring the City of Lights. But, don’t forget another “can’t miss” part of planning your trip—a travel protection plan.
Whether you only have a few days to tour or are taking an extended stay, traveling abroad can be tricky. A travel protection plan can help if you get injured or sick, need help making new arrangements, lose your passport and many other situations where you could use a helping hand.