Are you looking to spend 3 days in Paris?
After multiple visits to the French capital, all with different company and duration, I’ve uncovered that three days in Paris gives you the best opportunity to explore the city without getting overwhelmed.
I’ve also perfected the list of attractions you can visit during this time and in which order you should explore them to maximize your stay in the City of Love.
Because the truth is, you simply can’t visit every place in Paris in 3 days. Even if you fly from one attraction to the next and there are no lines, you still won’t make it. Guaranteed.
So, let’s get realistic.
What can you visit in 3 days in Paris and enjoy the City of Light to the fullest?
Let’s find out!
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Navigate directly to:
- Must-See Attractions in Paris on Your First Visit
- The Perfect 3 Days in Paris Itinerary – Day by Day
- Day 1: The Louvre, Champs-Élysées, and the Eiffel Tower
- Day 2: Montmartre, a Seine River Cruise, and a Cabaret Show
- Day 3: Notre-Dame de Paris, the Latin Quarter, and Montparnasse
- Further Amazing Attractions in Paris for Your Next Visit
- The Best Paris Travel Tips for an Unforgettable Visit
- Where to Stay in Paris: The Best Hotels and Areas for 3 Days in Paris
- Now You Know How to Spend 3 Days in Paris in the Best Way Possible
Must-See Attractions in Paris on Your First Visit
If it’s your first time in Paris, here are the top 10 attractions I recommend not missing:
- The Louvre
- Arc de Triomphe
- The Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Seine River Cruise
- Sacre-Coeur Basilica
- The Catacombs
- Rodin Museum
- Cabaret Show
On the way to these attractions, you’ll see some others as well. Everything else is optional and you can leave it for your next time in the City of Light.
The Perfect 3 Days in Paris Itinerary – Day by Day
Visiting Paris can be quite overwhelming. The city boasts more museums and attractions than any other on the planet.
But don’t worry – I’ve got you covered.
After planning close to ten city breaks in Paris for me and my travel companions, I’ve perfected this three-day Paris itinerary.
And now, I want to share with you the ultimate 3 days in Paris itinerary for first-time visitors and anyone, who needs a checklist of the best attractions in the French capital.
I’ve grouped them together based on their location so you can optimize your precious vacation time.
Day 1: The Louvre, Champs-Élysées, and the Eiffel Tower
On your first day in Paris, I recommend you visit the absolute crème de la crème of Parisian attractions.
Here are all the details for your Day 1 in Paris:
The Louvre: The Largest Art Gallery in the World
Let’s start your Paris itinerary with the world’s most famous art gallery and largest museum on the planet.
The first thing you need to know about the Louvre: it’s freaking huge!
So if you truly want to see every piece displayed inside, your 3 days in Paris won’t even be enough to browse just this one museum.
My best advice for visiting the Louvre is to join this tour. You’ll skip the lines and have a guide who will make sure you see all the highlights without getting lost in the labyrinth of the museum. There’s no better way to maximize your 3 days in Paris, believe me!
✔️ Tip: The Louvre has several entrances that are not as obvious as the pyramid. Use the Galerie du Carrousel or Passage Richelieu entrances to avoid the crowds at the glass pyramid.
Start at the biggest museum in the world, roam the most famous boulevard on the planet, marvel at the most magnificent triumphal arc, and finish your day at the most popular tower.
Now, let’s get something out of the way:
Leonardo’s Mona Lisa is the most visited piece on display at the Louvre. But do you want to know the sad truth?
The painting is tiny, locked behind a bulletproof glass, and you can’t get nearer than 3 m / 10 ft. from her. For me, this painting is the biggest tourist trap on Earth!
Still, if you absolutely must see the Mona Lisa, here’s what you should do:
If you want to see the Mona Lisa without the crowds, come at the end of the opening hours and join this tour. You’ll get unobstructed views of the painting and an expert to show you around the rest of the museum.
Here are some of the other highlights you should check out at the Louvre:
- Venus de Milo
- Winged Victory
- The Dying Slave and the Rebellious Slave – Michelangelo
- Virgin of the Rocks – Leonardo da Vinci
- The Coronation of Napoleon – Jacques-Louis David
- Liberty Leading the People – Eugène Delacroix
- The Lacemaker – Johannes Vermeer
And if you’re looking for unusual things to do in Paris, one of my top recommendations is to explore the following quirky collections:
- Arts of Oceania
- Egyptian Antiquities
- The French Crown Jewels
⏱️ Time needed: To visit the Louvre, you’ll need at least two hours. Plan another hour for photos of the palace buildings and surroundings. Buy your ticket in advance to save precious time.
Champs-Élysées: The Most Famous Boulevard in the World
From the Louvre, go under the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and enter the Tuileries Garden. The magnificent park invites for a stroll or a leisurely people-watching session. However, remember that you only have 3 days in Paris, so don’t spend too much time in the garden.
Exit the park at Place de la Concorde, one of the most stunning squares you’ll ever see.
The Egyptian obelisk and the perfect symmetry of the huge fountains make for an excellent photo op. The only problem is that every other tourist in Paris will also want a photo here.
After you’re done modeling at Place de la Concorde, head to the most famous boulevard in the world, Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
The construction of the 6-lane boulevard finished in 1670. The main artery of Paris has hosted tons of marathons and military parades since then.
Before diving into the shops, you’ll pass by Petit Palais and Grand Palais. Just a minute off Champs-Élysées is the Élysée Palace, the 18th-century residence of the French president.
Make sure you don’t make too many stops and keep your eyes on the main goal at the end of the long boulevard – the Arc de Triomphe.
If you haven’t strayed too much away from Champs-Élysées, you’ll reach its culmination in about an hour. But if you’d followed every beautiful building and photographed everything that caught your eye, your 3 days in Paris might not have been enough to reach the Arc ;)
Once you’ve crossed the roundabout, from the underpassage you’ll emerge at the eternal fire. Depending on the season and time of day, the tunnel might be so crowded, that you’d barely move. Hence, plan double the time you thought you’d need for this site.
Every inch of the Arc is richly decorated.
You can see battle scenes, allegorical figures, floral motives, and inscriptions. Each side is worth photographing, so you’ll probably need an hour to do all the shots you want here.
And that’s if you choose not to climb to the top. Add another hour to your Paris itinerary if you decide to see Champs-Élysées from the top of Arc de Triomphe.
Reaching the rooftop of the Arc reveals an amazing view. To save time, buy your ticket online in advance here.
⏱️ Time needed: To walk from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe without any extra stops, you’ll need at least two hours. Plan another two to three hours for photos along the way and at the Arc. You’ll need another hour to go to the rooftop.
Eiffel Tower: The Best View of Paris from Above During Day and Night
Whether you’re a fan or not of the iron construction, the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is something you shouldn’t miss. No matter if you only have a few hours or 3 days in Paris, find the time to get up there!
My top travel tip for the Eiffel Tower is to go there at the end of the day. This way, you’ll enjoy the magnificent panorama of Paris during the best hours for photoshopping. You’ll catch some daylight, see the golden hour, the blue hour, and Paris at night.
What a way to end your first day in Paris, eh?
Head back to your hotel for a well-deserved rest but not before you spend some time in Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. If the weather permits it, watch the Eiffel Tower’s illuminations and light show.
✔️ Tip: To skip the gigantic line in front of the cashiers, buy your ticket online. This way, it’ll only take you about 15 min to reach the top of the Eiffel Tower!
⏱️ Time needed: If you’ve booked your ticket online, calculate around two hours for the Eiffel Tower and the views of Paris from above. Another hour for photos of the tower itself and Champ de Mars.
Day 2: Montmartre, a Seine River Cruise, and a Cabaret Show
Relaxed yet? Then it’s time for your second day in Paris!
After all the walking from the previous day, I suggest you take it a bit slower today.
Explore the artistic neighborhood of Montmartre, join a Seine River cruise, and watch a cabaret show.
Let’s find out what awaits in on your second day in Paris!
Montmartre Hill: Churches, Artists, and a Splendid View of Paris
In the morning, find your way to Montmartre Hill. Lots of climbing will be involved here, but hey – the best views are from above!
Once you reach the staggering white basilica Sacré-Coeur on the hilltop, you’ll know what I mean. The view of Paris at the foot of the hill is jaw-dropping.
The artistic neighborhood is livelier in the afternoon and evening, but to avoid the crowds it’s best to explore it in the morning.
Take your time, walk up and down the narrow lanes and staircases, enjoy the atmosphere, sit at the cute little cafés, and take it all in.
Here’s what to do in Montmartre on your second day in Paris:
- Visit Le Musée de Montmartre, if you’re a history lover. It’s hosted in a 17th-century house with a beautiful garden. This is where Renoir created some of his masterpieces.
- Check out the paintings at Place du Tertre or even buy one as a souvenir. Or have a cup of coffee at one of the tables, lining the cobblestone paved square.
- Enter the Église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, the oldest church in Paris. It dates back to the 12th century.
- Read I Love you! in multiple languages at the wall of Le mur des je t’aime mural in a tiny cute neighbourhood park.
- Make one of the most cliché photos of the mill above the entrance of Moulin Rouge.
- Meet eternity at the Montmartre Cemetery, where famous artists and writers are buried.
Once you’ve had your share of vibrant art, cozy cafés, and unusual sights, move on to the next stop. Take the metro and get off near the riverside.
In fact, each time you get tired of walking during your 3 days in Paris, it’s a good idea to take the subway, even if it’s for one stop only. Distances in Paris shouldn’t be underestimated. Do your feet a favor and give them a rest from time to time.
⏱️ Time needed: Depending on the number of stops and coffee breaks you make, somewhere between two and four hours.
Seine River Cruise: The Famous Buildings at the River Banks from Another Angle
Since climbing the cobblestone streets of Montmartre has tired you enough, rest your feet while taking a boat tour of the Seine River.
There’s a large variety of boats and tour themes you can choose from, so pick the one closest to your interests. The views will be all the same, but the atmosphere and the service on the boat will differ.
Some of the buildings you might have already seen on your previous day in Paris, but now you’ll watch them pass you by from a different angle.
- The Louvre,
- The Eiffel Tower,
- The Notre-Dame Cathedral,
- The Statue of Liberty,
- The Paris Museum of Modern Art,
- The smallest building in Paris,
… and you’ll pass under the beautiful Parisian bridges
- Pont Alexandre III,
- Pont des Arts with the countless padlocks, and
- Pont Neuf.
⏱️ Time needed: Depending on the kind of tour you choose, from one to several hours.
The Cabaret Shows: The Best of the Famous Parisian Nightlife
If you’re up for a night out, head to one of the famous cabaret shows in Paris.
To enjoy the best aspects of the Parisian nightlife, book this awesome combo including dinner and a show.
But how to find a great cabaret show, you may wonder?
Tens of establishments in Paris will compete for your attention.
My advice is to choose a lesser-known place to finish your night. You’ll experience better performance and get some extras for less money than at the most famous places. Also, check out which cabaret is most convenient to reach from your accommodation.
Here are the top-rated cabarets in Paris:
- Moulin Rouge: the most iconic but over-commercialized cabaret show. Located in Montmartre.
- Le Lido: a dazzling, quick-paced show in the Champs-Élysées.
- Le Crazy Horse: extravagant choreography in an intimate setting near the banks of the River Seine.
- Paradis Latin: great acrobatics in a posh ballroom in the Latin Quarter.
- Au Lapin Agile: the most intimate cabaret experience in Paris where the audience becomes part of the show. Located in Montmartre.
✔️ Tip: My recommendation is the superb performance at Le Crazy Horse. The show was unusual, unexpected, and affordable. The seating was great and the atmosphere was spectacular.
What a spectacular way to end your second of three days in Paris!
⏱️ Time needed: The cabaret shows without dinner are around two hours long. If you book the dinner option, your night will be about twice as long.
Day 3: Notre-Dame de Paris, the Latin Quarter, and Montparnasse
I know, 3 days in Paris aren’t enough to see everything but let’s maximize your time on your final day in the city.
Today, I recommend starting at the most visited landmark in France and continuing to explore two quintessential Parisian neighborhoods.
Ready for your final day in Paris? Let’s dive in!
Notre-Dame de Paris: The Beauty Which Inspires Poets
Start your third day in Paris with a visit to the most famous cathedral in France.
Situated on Île de la Cité island in the middle of the Seine River, the Cathedral of Notre Dame was built in the 13th century.
You can easily reach it via the subway. Alternatively, walk across the river via one of the beautiful bridges, connecting the island with the river banks.
The iconic Gothic building hosts incredible naturalistic sculptures and stained glass windows. The ten bells and the organs produce beautiful music inside and outside of the cathedral.
Join the tour to the top of the tower for another set of magnificent views of Paris from above. Don’t miss to take a few close-up shots of the famous gargoyles and the rest of the marvelous statues, decorating the façade.
The island also hosts the cathedral’s crypt as well as the gothic chapel Sainte Chapelle and the Palace of Justice.
✔️ Tip: Sadly, one of the most famous cathedrals in the world was severely damaged by fire on April 15, 2019. Please check in advance the current situation.
⏱️ Time needed: Plan at least two hours of your 3 days in Paris for the small island and its gems. Book a guided tour of the famous cathedral and the island here.
The Latin Quarter: The Bohemian Heart of Paris
Leaving Île de la Cité island behind via Pont Saint-Michel bridge, you’ll find yourself in the Latin Quarter. A few steps away from the bridge is the stone Fontaine Saint-Michel, portraying the saint while slaying a dragon.
Next, walk by the impressive building of the Paris-Sorbonne University and swirl towards the Pantheon to visit the graves of the most famous minds of France. You can buy your ticket for the Pantheon online and save some time queueing.
For some fresh air and beautiful greenery, don’t miss the Luxembourg Gardens with Luxembourg Palace at one end and Montparnasse at the opposite side. Watch the children play with their model sailboats in the pond and walk the alleys while reaching your next stop.
⏱️ Time needed: Depending on your pace, the number of detours you take, and the number of photos you take, plan to spend at least two hours on the streets of the Latin Quarter.
Montparnasse: The Many Faces of Death
Montparnasse is the home of the Paris Catacombs, Montparnasse Cemetery, and Montparnasse Tower, among other sights.
The Catacombs of Paris consist of a labyrinth of tunnels, where millions of skeletons have found their last resort in a former limestone mine. They’re illuminated and arranged for the scariest effect possible.
Montparnasse Cemetery is the next place where you can confront your mortality. The monumental cemetery park is beautifully maintained, and will provide a thought-provoking walk between the tombs and gravestones.
If you haven’t seen enough of Paris from above, go to the roof terrace of the Montparnasse Tower next. The observation deck on the 56th floor of this 210 m high skyscraper will provide another angle of the beautiful Parisian sites you’ve visited during your 3 days in Paris.
⏱️ Time needed: For the tour of the Catacombs, plan about 2 hours. For the rest of the Montparnasse landmarks, you’ll need between two and three hours altogether. Purchase your tickets in advance to save precious time.
The Army Museum or Rodin Museum: One Last Museum Visit
Last but not least, visit some of the gorgeous Parisian museums.
My first recommendation is The Army Museum. It hosts Napoleon’s magnificent marble tomb, as well as multiple collections of weapons, uniforms, and battlefield miniatures.
If you’re not into war history and military equipment, visit the Rodin Museum next door. You can admire the famous artist’s masterpiece The Thinker in a mansion from the 18th century. In the museum’s beautiful park, you can find more fantastic sculptures on display.
⏱️ Time needed: Visit the museums if you have at least two hours to spare. Otherwise, it’s not worth paying the ticket price.
Further Amazing Attractions in Paris for Your Next Visit
Unfortunately, your 3 days in Paris itinerary is full now.
But don’t worry, once you’ve visited, you’ll want to come back and you’ll find a way to do it, I’m sure of it.
So instead of wondering what to see next time, here’s a list, waiting for you to start planning:
- Musée Grévin hosts wax figures of people from French history and contemporary celebrities.
- Musée des arts et métiers, despite the name, is a technology museum. The building is a converted church, which hosts scientific, industrial, and technological artworks and artifacts, including the original Foucault’s pendulum.
- Place de la Bastille is the former site of the Bastille prison. The July Column rises above the iconic square, which is lined with bars and cafés.
- Les Pavillons de Bercy hosts Musée des Arts Forains, which showcases a collection of objects from theatrical and music halls.
- Bois de Boulogne, the former royal hunting grounds, is currently a huge public park. You can spend hours walking the nature trails and picnicking at the lakes. And if that becomes too boring for you, visit the botanical gardens.
- Le Palais Royal is a 17th-century palace with lovely gardens and arcades of shops.
- Père Lachaise Cemetery is the home of Jim Morrison’s tomb on one end and the tomb of Oscar Wilde in the opposite direction. Metal railings stop visitors from actually going near the graves.
- The Palace of Versailles lies about an hour away from Paris by train. You’ll need at least half a day to see the 18th-century palace and explore its huge gardens.
- Explore the French countryside with these day trips from Paris.
Perhaps you’re ambitious enough to include one or more of these stops in your current 3 days in Paris itinerary? Go, you!
✔️ The Best Paris Travel Tips for an Unforgettable Visit
To make sure your trip to Paris is perfect in any way possible, I’ve compiled my top travel tips for the City of Love.
After numerous journeys to the French capital, I’ve perfected not only the itinerary, but I’ve also found the best travel advice to make your stay seamless.
✔️ Tip: you can find more travel advice in this comprehensive guide of the Paris travel tips.
Have a Plan and Know Your Interests Before Going to Paris
Don’t try to see everything in Paris or visit the attractions everyone else goes to.
People are different. So, follow your interests and not the crowds.
Paris boasts 130 museums, and I’m sure there are no more than three, which you’ll really want to explore.
It’s OK to skip the Louvre even if it’s the most famous gallery in the world!
You aren’t going to Paris for three days to impress somebody, you are going to have fun and do what you like, right?
Make your own 3 days in Paris itinerary without feeling guilty about what others might think.
Is 3 Days in Paris Enough Time?
3 days in Paris will give you enough time to explore the main attractions of the French capital without getting too overwhelmed by the architectural beauty and cultural diversity of the city.
This trip will only scratch the surface but will let you feel the atmosphere of the City of Love.
But why only 3 days in Paris when there’s so much more to see?
Apart from the high cost of a trip to Paris, if you spend more time in the French capital, you’ll start seeing its imperfections… Like the streets which are washed every morning, but in the evening they’re again filthy and covered in vomit and trash.
Not to mention, your feet will hurt like hell from all the walking, and your head will spin like a Ferris wheel from all the glorious sights and emotions if you try to stay for more than three days in Paris.
So why do this to yourself? You can always return and there’s enough to see on a second and a third visit as well!
Who Is This 3 Days in Paris Itinerary for?
This 3-day itinerary is best suited for first-time visitors to Paris. But even if you’ve already been to the French capital, check out that you haven’t missed anything essential.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could squeeze all the attractions on this list in two days as well. However, you might be physically and emotionally exhausted by the end of your trip.
When to Visit Paris for 3 Days?
Sadly, the City of Love is overcrowded even in off-season months like November or March.
Still, these are the best months to visit.
Try to pick a time during the week, and go to the most famous museums and areas as early in the morning as possible.
How to Get Around Paris?
The most convenient way of getting around Paris is by walking and using the metro.
To plan your rides and explore the ticket options, visit this website.
Keep in Mind the Attractions’ Closings
If you visit Paris during the week, make sure you double-check the attractions’ opening times.
Many museums are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays.
Here are the ones which close on Mondays:
- The Catacombs of Paris
- Musée Rodin
- Musée des arts et métiers
- Musée d’Orsay
- Musée Carnavalet
On Tuesdays, the following museums remain closed:
- The Louvre
- Musée de l’Orangerie
- Pompidou Centre
Where to Eat in Paris?
Food in France is a lengthy topic.
Since you’ll only spend 3 days in Paris, I advise you not to get too hung up on where you dine and what you eat.
Better focus on the attractions and leave the culinary quests for your next visit.
With that said, I fully understand that you still need to eat J
Cafés and bistros are your best choice for breakfast and lunch. Try to avoid eateries that are close to famous attractions to evade tourist traps.
And in the evenings, most of your dinners will be included in the tours I’ve recommended.
Where to Stay in Paris: The Best Hotels and Areas for 3 Days in Paris
To maximize your time, I recommend booking your hotel for 3 days in Paris near the attractions you want to visit most.
The French capital is divided into arrondissements (districts). Below are the ones you should check out:
- The Louvre (1st arrondissement)
- The Eiffel Tower (7th arrondissement)
- Champs-Elysées (8th arrondissement)
- Montmartre (18th arrondissement)
- The Latin Quarter (5th arrondissement)
- Montparnasse (14th arrondissement)
Now You Know How to Spend 3 Days in Paris in the Best Way Possible
So, there you have it – the ultimate 3 days in Paris itinerary.
Whether it’s your first time in the French capital or you’ve roamed its streets before, take a look at this list to make sure you haven’t missed the best attractions.
If you follow in my footsteps and spend 3 days in Paris the same way I did, I’m sure you’ll have a blast in the City of Love.
Now, it’s your turn:
Have you been to the French capital? Did you spend 3 days in Paris or more?
Let me know in the comments below.