Paris, the city of love, history, and delicious food.
From strolling down the Champs Elysees, climbing up the Eiffel Tower, exploring the catacombs, and indulging in all the delicious cheese and wine on offer, there are so many amazing things to do in Paris.
Related Read: A Guide to Paris for Beginners
Here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Paris
1. Picnic at the Eiffel Tower
Cliché as it is, a visit to Paris is not complete without going to the Eiffel Tower, it’s the most iconic landmark of the city. If you’re not keen on forking out the Euros to climb up the tower, then just pack a basket filled with some delicious cheese and wine and set up a picnic in the surrounding park.
If you also want to go up the tower, you can book tickets online beforehand.
2. City Walking Tour
The best way to experience Paris is on foot. There are many walking tours on offer that take you through the various attractions of Paris. You can choose a general tour that will take you around the popular landmarks including The Louvre, Notre Dame de Paris, Arc de Triomphe, Latin Quarter, Champs Elysees, and other historical landmarks. Or you can do a more specialized tour focusing on a specific interest like graffiti, or an area like a Versailles or the Latin Quarter.
3. Visit the Museums
While the walking tours are a great intro into Paris, you’ll probably go past a few places that you’ll want to go back to spend more time exploring – some likely being the museums. There are some amazing museums in Paris, that you will need to dedicate a lot of time to. There’s, of course, the famous Louvre Museum, which you’ll need a full day to explore – if not more (get a ‘skip the line’ ticket online beforehand)! With others including The Centre of Pompidou, Musée d’Orsay, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, and many other smaller, more niche museums.
4. Catacombs Tour
The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries which hold the remains of more than six million people, if you’re interested in the fascinating history of the Catacombs and the mysteries of the unknown you should definitely book a Catacombs Tour. You’ll get to explore the underground passageways lined with the bones of thousands of former Parisians, and learn the history of the mesmerizing and macabre labyrinth. Get a ‘skip the line’ ticket before you go to save time!
5. Moulin Rouge
Another renowned Parisian landmark, Moulin Rouge is the home of cabaret. While mostly a tourist attraction now, there are still shows and tours on offer and the inside décor still holds true to the original building. Even if you’re not able to attend a show, it’s worth going to see the iconic windmill on the outside of the building. But going for a full-on show with dinner is a great experience.
6. Luxembourg Gardens
Bordered by Saint-Germain-des-Pres and the Latin Quarter, the Luxembourg Gardens are loved by all Parisians. The lovely gardens are perfect for an impromptu picnic, or just an afternoon stroll past the orchards and the old apiary, where they teach beekeeping and sell honey in the fall.
7. Shop ‘Till You Drop
One of the shopping capitals in the world, Paris is renowned for its endless stream of shops, from high-end boutiques to classic vintage shops. For designer shopping, there’s the Louvre and Tuileries District, and Avenue Montaigne and the Champs-Elysées. For department store shopping, there’s Boulevard Haussmann and the Grands Boulevards, while those looking for more unique, quirky finds will enjoy The Marais. Those on a smaller budget can check out Les Halles and Rue de Rivoli, the home of major chain stores and trendy boutiques. And those on even smaller budgets can browse around the weekend vintage markets for some classic finds.
8. Eat at a Sidewalk Café
While walking around Paris you will notice that there is no shortage of sidewalk cafes. From delicious bakeries with the most exquisite sweet treats in the windows, to coffee shops, delis, take-aways, and fine French cuisine. If the weather is nice, there’s nothing better than pulling up a chair at a sidewalk café, ordering something delicious, and sitting back watching the daily life of Parisians go by.
9. Boat Tours on the Seine
There’s nothing quite like seeing Paris from a boat on the Seine, it adds a whole new perspective to the city. There’s no lack of boats to choose from, all offering similar tours up and down the Seine while pointing out the most famous city landmarks. Some include a meal, drinks, and entertainment, while others only the sightseeing with commentary. They can range from two to four hours. This is one of the most popular things to do in Paris.
10. Spend a day at Disneyland
Whether you have kids or not, Disneyland Paris always provides a fun day. The entertainment resort is just outside of Paris, though easily accessible by train from the city. There’s so much on offer at the resort, including shopping, restaurants, entertainment venues, golf course, hotels, and of course all of the rides and attractions. Some of the top attractions include Crush’s Coaster, Space Mountain, Mission 2, Phantom Manor, Tower of Terror, Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars.
This city is full of excitement, and never-ending lists of things to do in Paris.
Will you spend a few days in Paris in winter?
Paris in winter is also a good choice! How do we know? We’ve done it! Watch our video:
Exploring more of the city
Visiting Paris is a bit like peeling an onion. I think one needs to see all the big major tourist destinations—Eiffel Tour, Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elyse’es, Golden Triangle, major neighborhoods and their cafes. These places are the outer layers of the onion.
Ignoring the fact onions sting, peeling the middle is visiting the smaller more focused museums. Can you believe there are more than 200 museums in Paris? One can spend a lot of time just working their way through them. I try to get to one new one each trip. Exploring the many charming residential neighborhoods, parks, markets, the less well known shopping and the flea markets can keep the traveler happily occupied for days, weeks, maybe months.
More unusual things to do in Paris
At the center of the onion are the more unusual stuff — catacombs, canal trips, viaducts, neighborhoods that tourists don’t go. I believe in getting to that part of the onion.
So, my advice is to first see the major stuff (the usual things to do in Paris mentioned above) and then work your way through to the more obscure destinations.
So, what do I always do in Paris? As I thought about it I decided I would lump my “must dos” into categories.
I always go TO the Louvre. Note: I didn’t say I always go IN the Louvre.
Sometimes I do, but most times my visit is simply to the main courtyard where the I.M.Pei designed Pyramid is surrounded with the fabulous old Beaux Arts structure, once home to the king of France. It’s grand. It’s gorgeous and I love seeing these structures in different light at different times of day. I always take photos, trying to capture a new viewpoint, an unusual reflection or something fresh. The possibilities are endless.
I love doing something connected to water
Usually it is a ride on the Batobus, savoring the view of the City of Lights from the water. It’s a different perspective. Some times we do the very touristy dinner tour on the Seine, marveling with folks all over the world that silly but magical moment when the Eiffel Tower Twinkles. On this last trip we spent a morning on the Canal Saint Martin. I’d do that again.
Marvelous, visual tasty wonderful food. Each trip we search out a new market, a street of food shops or the food department in a grand department store. Paris is really all about food. Looking at the food. Buying the food. Marveling the presentation whether the simple vertical chicken roasters to the La Grand Epicerie…… Rue Cler to Rue Montorgeuil…Endless delicious possibilities. Don’t forget the wine.
It’s my fave – my number one things to do in Paris. I always go there…..sometimes to eat on Rue Du Tresor, a tiny little one block street with quiet outdoor cafes. Most times to sit on the grass on Place des Vosges. Shopping all the quaint shops in the area with their quirky hours and mix of merchandise. Watching the mix of people. It’s quite diverse. I always take a stroll down the main street of the nearby Ile Sainte Louis as well. I think it is charming and I love imagining what this was like decades ago. And not too far from the Marais or Ile Sainte Louis is Sainte Chapelle where a new “favorite thing to do” is to attend a concert.
A new addition to my “must do” is to eat at roof top restaurants
It is easy to eat on the street at cafes, in Bistros and, well, everywhere, but the new challenge is to find roof top eateries. Since Paris has height restrictions for buildings (what makes it so charming) a roof top restaurant has the advantage of being “above it all but not too far.” So far I have enjoyed lunches and dinners at Georges at the Pompidou and Les Ombres perched on top of the Branly right below the Eiffel tower. Have had a friend recommend the restaurant at the Arabic Institute for the next trip.
You will most definitely never run out of interesting and unique things to do in Paris. The city is packed with excitement and beautiful things to see and experience. And of course, amazing food!
And if Paris shouldn’t be enough, then combine your city trip with a fantastic day trip to Versailles. Here we have a complete article on what to expect on a Versailles Day Trip.