The Best Things to Do in Paris, France

Paris, the City of Light, needs no introduction. It’s a destination that effortlessly combines history, art, culture, and romance, making it a must-visit for travelers from around the globe.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler looking for new experiences, Paris offers something for everyone. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems tucked away in cobblestone streets, this guide will take you on a journey through the best things to do in Paris.

Welcome to Paris, where every street corner tells a story and every café invites you to linger a little longer. With its timeless beauty and vibrant energy, Paris captures the hearts of all who visit.

From the majestic Eiffel Tower to the charming neighborhoods of Montmartre and Le Marais, there’s no shortage of adventures awaiting you in the French capital.

So, grab a croissant, sip on some café au lait, and get ready to explore the best that Paris has to offer.

1. Climb the Eiffel Tower

No visit to Paris would be complete without a trip to the iconic Eiffel Tower. Built for the 1889 World’s Fair, this towering structure has become synonymous with the city itself. As you ascend the tower, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Paris spread out before you. From the sprawling cityscape to the meandering Seine River, the panoramic vistas are nothing short of spectacular.

Tips for Visiting: Beat the crowds by purchasing your tickets in advance online. Consider visiting the tower early in the morning or late in the evening for smaller crowds and magical views of the city illuminated at night. And don’t forget your camera – you’ll want to capture every moment of this unforgettable experience.

Climb the Eiffel Tower - Best Things To Do In Paris
Couple and the Eiffel Tower

2. Visit the Louvre Museum

Home to some of the world’s most famous works of art, the Louvre Museum is a cultural treasure trove waiting to be explored. From the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa to the majestic beauty of the Venus de Milo, the museum’s collection spans thousands of years of artistic history. But it’s not just the masterpieces inside that captivate visitors – the museum itself is a work of art, housed in a stunning palace that once served as a royal residence.

Tips for Visiting: To make the most of your visit, plan your route in advance and prioritize the works of art you most want to see. Consider purchasing a skip-the-line ticket to avoid long queues, especially during peak hours. And don’t forget to take breaks – with over 35,000 works on display, exploring the Louvre can be a marathon, not a sprint.

Visit the Louvre Museum - Best Things To Do In Paris

3. Explore Montmartre

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the bohemian charm of Montmartre, a neighborhood steeped in art, history, and romance. From the winding streets lined with quaint cafés to the bustling Place du Tertre, where artists set up their easels to capture the essence of Paris, Montmartre is a feast for the senses. Be sure to visit the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica, perched atop the highest point in the city and offering sweeping views of Paris below.

Tips for Visiting: Wear comfortable shoes – Montmartre’s cobblestone streets can be a bit uneven. Take your time exploring the neighborhood’s hidden gems, from secret gardens to tucked-away galleries. And don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the locals – you never know what hidden treasures they might recommend.

Explore Montmartre - Best Things To Do In Paris

4. Enjoy a Seine River Cruise

There’s something undeniably magical about seeing Paris from the Seine. A river cruise offers a different perspective of the famed cityscape, gliding past historic landmarks like the Louvre, Notre-Dame, and the Eiffel Tower, all illuminated against the night sky. Whether you opt for a simple sightseeing tour or splurge on a dinner cruise, the Seine offers a picturesque escape from the bustling city streets.

Tips for Visiting: For a romantic experience, choose an evening cruise to see the city lights twinkling along the water. Many cruises offer audio guides in multiple languages, helping you understand the rich history behind each passing structure. Also, booking tickets in advance can often secure you a better deal or a guaranteed spot on popular cruises.

Seine River Cruise - Best Things To Do In Paris

5. Tour Notre-Dame Cathedral

Despite suffering significant damage in a 2019 fire, Notre-Dame remains a monumental site, embodying the heart of Parisian history and architecture. While the interior and the rooftop are closed for restoration, you can still admire the façade’s intricate French Gothic details and the surrounding area, which buzzes with the energy of locals and tourists alike.

Tips for Visiting: Visit the nearby Ile Saint-Louis for a stroll and some of the best ice cream at Berthillon, or explore the Deportation Martyrs’ Memorial, a poignant site tucked away at the tip of the Île de la Cité. Stay updated on the restoration process and available tours through the cathedral’s official website or local tourism boards.

Tour Notre-Dame Cathedral - Best Things To Do In Paris

6. Stroll Through the Luxembourg Gardens

Created in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the Luxembourg Gardens are a green haven in the middle of the Latin Quarter. The gardens feature beautifully manicured lawns, statuesque fountains, and the stunning Luxembourg Palace. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, a jog, or just to sit and enjoy a sunny day with a good book.

Tips for Visiting: Pack a picnic to enjoy on the lawns or grab a chair by the central fountain for prime people-watching. The gardens also host free photo exhibitions on the fence along Rue de Médicis and Rue de Vaugirard, adding an artistic flair to your visit.

Stroll Through the Luxembourg Gardens - Best Things To Do In Paris

7. Discover the Musée d’Orsay

Housed in a beaux-arts railway station on the left bank of the Seine, the Musée d’Orsay is renowned for its impressive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces. Here, art lovers can admire works by painters like Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Renoir. The museum itself is a work of art, with a striking clock window offering views over Montmartre.

Tips for Visiting: Purchase a “skip-the-line” ticket online to avoid long waits, especially during peak tourist seasons. Start at the top floor and work your way down to enjoy the artwork without rushing, and make sure to check out the temporary exhibitions, which often feature lesser-known artists and themes.

Musée d’Orsay

8. Shop in Le Marais

Le Marais is not only one of the most historic districts of Paris but also a top destination for shopping enthusiasts. Here, you can find everything from high-end boutiques to vintage shops offering unique finds. The area retains a distinctly medieval feel with its narrow streets and historic buildings, adding to the shopping experience.

Tips for Visiting: Spend some time wandering through the streets like Rue des Rosiers and Rue des Francs-Bourgeois. Don’t miss the concept stores and independent fashion boutiques that reflect Paris’s reputation as a fashion capital. Sundays are particularly lively in Le Marais, as most shops remain open while other parts of the city might close.

Shop in Le Marais

9. Watch a Show at the Moulin Rouge

For a truly Parisian night out, nothing beats the experience of watching a cabaret show at the famous Moulin Rouge. Known for its French Cancan and extravagant performances, the Moulin Rouge offers a glimpse into the glamorous Belle Époque period. The theater’s rich history and vibrant atmosphere make it a must-visit for anyone seeking the quintessential Paris nightlife.

Tips for Visiting: It’s advisable to book your tickets well in advance as shows can sell out quickly, especially during tourist seasons. Opt for a dinner-show package to enjoy some exquisite French cuisine while you watch the performance. Dress elegantly as the venue maintains a strict dress code to match its upscale ambiance.

Moulin Rouge

10. Visit the Sainte-Chapelle

Located within the medieval Palais de la Cité, the Sainte-Chapelle is a hidden treasure of Paris. This stunning chapel, known for its breathtaking stained glass windows, features 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The upper chapel, particularly, radiates with light and color, creating a mesmerizing effect that draws visitors from around the world.

Tips for Visiting: Try to visit on a sunny day when the natural light brings out the vivid colors of the stained glass to full effect. Buying a “skip-the-line” ticket can save you time, allowing more of your day to explore other nearby attractions like the Conciergerie.


11. Sample French Cuisine in a Bistro

No trip to Paris would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine at a traditional French bistro. From escargot and foie gras to coq au vin and ratatouille, the flavors of French cuisine can best be experienced in the casual yet intimate setting of a Parisian bistro.

Tips for Visiting: Look for bistros where locals eat, often slightly off the main tourist paths. Don’t hesitate to try the plat du jour, which is usually a well-prepared dish using seasonal ingredients. Pair your meal with a glass of French wine, recommended by the house for a truly local dining experience.

12. Walk Along the Champs-Élysées

The Champs-Élysées, often referred to as “the world’s most beautiful avenue,” stretches from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. This iconic boulevard is lined with cinemas, cafes, and luxury specialty shops, making it a premier destination for anyone looking to soak in Parisian luxury and bustling street life.

Tips for Visiting: Visit during a festive season like Christmas when the avenue is spectacularly lit up, or on Bastille Day for an impressive military parade. While the avenue is known for its high-end shopping, don’t miss the less obvious cultural spots like the Grand Palais, which often hosts major art exhibitions and events.


13. Explore the Catacombs of Paris

Beneath Paris’s streets lies a shadowy underworld known as the Catacombs, a network of old quarry tunnels repurposed to hold the remains of over six million people. This macabre but fascinating attraction provides a unique glimpse into the history of Paris and the solution to its historic cemetery overcrowding.

Tips for Visiting: The Catacombs are cooler than street level, so bring a sweater. Tickets often sell out due to visitor limits, so book in advance and be prepared for a descent and ascent of narrow stairs. Remember, it’s not suitable for those claustrophobic or uncomfortable with human remains.

Explore the Catacombs of Paris

14. Visit the Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is a symbol of the absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime and is as stunning today as it was centuries ago. With its opulent architecture, sprawling gardens, and the famous Hall of Mirrors, Versailles offers a remarkable insight into French royal history and extravagance.

Tips for Visiting: Travel to Versailles early in the day to avoid crowds, especially in the palace. Consider renting a golf cart or bike to explore the extensive gardens, or plan your visit on a day when the musical fountains show is scheduled, adding an extra layer of beauty to the gardens.

Palace of Versailles

15. Attend a Cooking Class

Embrace the culinary arts by participating in a cooking class where you can learn to make classic French dishes and pastries. These classes provide a hands-on way to understand and appreciate the nuances of French cooking, from sourcing the best ingredients to mastering the perfect techniques.

Tips for Visiting: Choose a class that includes a market visit to experience how locals shop for fresh produce. Look for small-group classes for a more personalized instruction, and make sure the class is in English, unless you’re comfortable following along in French.

16. Relax in the Café Culture

NCafés are not just places to drink coffee, but are institutions where locals and visitors alike can watch the world go by, read a book, or enjoy lively conversations. The café terraces that line the streets offer a perfect spot to relax and soak in the atmosphere of Paris.

Tips for Visiting: Choose a café off the beaten path to avoid the tourist markups and to find a more authentic experience. Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés are renowned for their literary history and are worth a visit for those wanting to channel the spirits of past intellectuals and artists.

17. Picnic in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

One of the largest and most enchanting parks in Paris, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont offers a lush landscape of cliffs, bridges, waterfalls, and paths that provide a picturesque escape from urban life. It’s a popular spot for picnics, especially by the lake beneath the towering Temple de la Sibylle.

Tips for Visiting: Bring a blanket and some locally sourced cheese, bread, and wine for the ultimate Parisian picnic. The park also features puppet shows and free concerts during the summer months, making it a great location for families and romantic outings alike.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

18. Explore the Latin Quarter

Known for its student life, bustling bistros, and vibrant nightlife, the Latin Quarter is one of Paris’s most dynamic districts. Here, history meets modernity with landmarks like the Panthéon and the Sorbonne juxtaposed against lively street markets and funky bookshops.

Tips for Visiting: Wander through the narrow streets and discover the area’s many hidden treasures, such as the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, an iconic English-language bookstore where you can catch readings and literary events. Don’t miss the local cinemas which often show independent films.

19. Visit the Pompidou Center

A cultural hub in the heart of Paris, the Pompidou Center not only offers an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art but also houses a public library and a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city. The building itself, with its innovative ‘inside-out’ architecture, is a work of art.

Tips for Visiting: Check out the schedule of live performances and exhibitions, which often include cutting-edge works by contemporary artists. The rooftop offers one of the best views of Paris, so be sure to visit at sunset for a breathtaking experience.

Pompidou Center

20. Shopping at Galeries Lafayette

For those looking to indulge in a bit of retail therapy, Galeries Lafayette is the go-to destination. This historic department store is not only a shopper’s paradise but also an architectural marvel with a stunning stained glass dome. It offers everything from high-end fashion brands to gourmet food.

Tips for Visiting: Head to the rooftop terrace for free, panoramic views of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower. The store also offers fashion shows on certain days, which can be a unique addition to your shopping experience.

21. Visit the Arc de Triomphe

Standing proudly at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’s most famous monuments. Commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to celebrate his victories, the arch towers over the bustling Place Charles de Gaulle, a site of national pride and history. Visitors can climb to the top for sweeping views of the twelve radiating avenues and a bird’s eye view of the city.

Tips for Visiting: Access to the Arc de Triomphe involves climbing 284 steps, so be prepared for a bit of a workout. It’s best to visit early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds and to capture the perfect photo of the Parisian skyline during golden hour. Additionally, every evening a flame is rekindled at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the arch, which makes for a poignant moment to witness.

Arc de Triomphe

Paris offers an endless array of activities that cater to all tastes, from the heights of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of the Catacombs. This guide has barely scratched the surface, but with these 20 activities, you’ll experience the breadth of what Paris has to offer.

Whether you’re seeking art, history, gastronomy, or just a leisurely stroll through beautiful gardens, Paris is a city that will enchant you with its timeless charm and vibrant atmosphere.