Paris offers an endless number of monuments, museums, cultural events, stores, markets, a surprising nightlife and numerous lively neighborhoods. Organizing such a short itinerary to cater for all tastes is impossible.
However, our 48-hour route includes the main monuments, museums, gardens and most important shopping streets in Paris. Depending on your preferences, you can spend more time discovering the stores in the city, visiting the museums you find most interesting, relaxing in Parisian cafés, or strolling through the gardens during the following circuit. We leave it entirely in your hands.
Depending on when you land in Paris, you’ll be able to make more or less of your first day in the capital of France. Supposing you arrive mid-afternoon, by the time you get to the center, and leave your suitcases in the hotel, you won’t have much time left to visit many attractions.
We recommend starting your holiday with the Eiffel Tower, Paris’ most representative icon. To catch the best view of this impressive wrought iron lattice tower, get off at Trocadéro metro station, where you’ll be able to appreciate the magnitude of the tower and the gardens Champs de Mars.
Walking down the Trocadéro, you’ll get to the base of the Tower, where you’ll be able to buy the admission tickets at the ticket office at the base of the Eiffel Tower. There are different types of tickets depending on the levels you want to go up, but we recommend going to the observation deck on the third floor to get the best views of this breath-taking city.
After climbing down the Eiffel Tower, we suggest you head to the Latin Quarter, Paris’ liveliest neighbourhood and a low-priced area to have dinner. You have to take the RER in Champs de Mars – Tour Eiffel and get off at Saint Michel – Notre Dame. From the moment you get off the express train, just follow the crowd.
After dinner, you can have a drink in the area or go for a walk to see the city lit up. You will get to Notre Dame Cathedral on the Île de la Cité by walking across any of the bridges on the River Seine from the Latin Quarter. If you cross the island, you will arrive at the Hôtel de Ville, the city’s Town Hall.
The itinerary for today is quite tiring, but you’ll be able to visit all the most important areas in Paris. The day begins at 10 am at Les Invalides and finishes at 8 pm in Montmartre and includes a three-hour walk.
Crossing the esplanade of Les Invalides you’ll get to the Pont Alexander III, one of Paris’ most beautiful bridges. If you head straight, you’ll walk bounded by the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. This last palace is free and its decoration and patio are worth-while seeing.
Following the itinerary down Avenue Churchill, you’ll get to Champs-Élysées and you’ll be able to see the Arc de Triomphe on your left hand side. Head towards the arch, while you look at the window displays of all the high-end shops in the city’s most famous avenue or have a coffee in one if its exclusive terraces.
Going back to Avenue Champs-Élysées and walking half an hour, you will come to Place de la Concorde, where the Obelisk of Luxor is located. From the center of the square you have views of Champs-Élysées to the west, Tuileries Garden to the east, the National Assembly and Madeleine Church to the north.
Wandering towards the church, you’ll go down Rue Royale, one of the most famous shopping streets in Paris. You can access l’église de la Madeleine, and then going back from where you came from, take Rue Saint Honoré to the left.
Take this street and to the left hand side, you’ll come upon the Place Vendôme, presided over by the famous triumphal column, which is a copy of the Trajan’s in Rome.
Leaving the square by the same route and going straight ahead is the Tuileries Garden. Wander across the park until you arrive at the Louvre Museum. If you want to make it to Montmartre before dinner, we suggest choosing the exhibitions carefully and being selective.
Leave the Museum on the north side and take Avenue de l’Opéra until you get to the aforementioned. The important shopping street was built by Napoleon III to connect the Louvre with the Garnier Palace, built for the Paris Opera by the Emperor.
Circling the building you’ll get to Haussmann Boulevard, where Lafayette Galeries and Printemps: are located, two large high-end department stores. We recommend visiting Lafayette, at least to see its dome.
If you want to discover this area a little more, walk east to the Grands Boulevards metro. Here is the Hard Rock Café and the wax museum Grévin.
Clichy Boulevard is a bohemian area with an important night life and red-light district type of shops.
Head east on Clichy Boulevard and you will get to Anvers metro, where you’ll see the Montmartre cable car. You can either use this type of transport or walk up the 200 steps.
Once in Montmartre, we recommend visiting the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and wander its streets following the flow of tourists to Place du Tertre (known as the painter’s square), one of the best places in Paris to have a nice and relaxing dinner.
After supper, we recommend attending the Moulin Rouge show at 11 pm. If you prefer something a little less pricey, the neighbourhood is full of places to have a drink.
On the second day we’ll visit Notre Dame Cathedral in the morning. We recommend climbing the towers. However, we suggest getting up early to avoid the queues and getting there at 9:45 am (Notre Dame opens at 10 am).
After taking photos of the imposing gargoyles, step inside the cathedral as it doesn’t take long to visit. It's free and a must-see.
When you leave Notre Dame, cross the square, turn on the Rue de la Cité, and head to Place Louis Lépine, where a flower market is open every day of the week. If you visit this square on Sunday, the market also includes bird stands.
Take the Boulevard du Palais and cross the medieval Saint-Michel bridge to get to the Quartier Latin, the same area where you had dinner the first night. Traverse Boulevard Saint-Michel until you get to Rue Soufflot and the Panthéon, another of our essential attractions in Paris.
Walking back Rue Soufflot, you’ll arrive at the Jardin du Luxembourg, one of the most beautiful gardens in the city. We suggest going for a stroll, have an ice-cream or sunbathe if the weather is good.
After a relaxing promenade, walk back Boulevard Saint-Michel to the livelier streets on the Seine. This is a good area to have lunch.
If you still have time, you can spend the afternoon in the Musée d’Orsay. To get to the building, walk west on the Left Bank of the Seine.
Staying in Paris for over two days?
If you’re staying in Paris for over two days, there are many other must-see attractions such as the Palace of Versailles, the Musée du quai Branly (a museum that features objects from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas), La Défense, Disneyland, or the Catacombs.